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Bettye Lee (Ward) Thomas

September 29, 1929 - August 1, 2020

Private family graveside services for Bettye Lee (Ward) Thomas, 90 of Sallisaw, Oklahoma will be at Akins Cemetery in Sallisaw, Oklahoma under the direction of Agent Mallory Martin Funeral Service, Inc. She passed away on August 1, 2020 in Sallisaw, Oklahoma.

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Private family graveside services for Bettye Lee (Ward) Thomas, 90 of Sallisaw, Oklahoma will be at Akins Cemetery in Sallisaw, Oklahoma under the direction of Agent Mallory Martin Funeral Service, Inc. She passed away on August 1, 2020 in Sallisaw, Oklahoma.

She was born on September 29, 1929 in Webbers Falls, Oklahoma to Susie Alene (Collins) and Robert Clayton Ward. Her family moved to Warner, OK during the flood of 1943. Her father died at a young age and her mother remarried Reynolds Looper. The Looper family operated a general mercantile in Gore for many years.

Bettye graduated from Warner High School at the age of 16 and attended Connors State College for 2 years. She began her teaching career at the age of 18 while continuing her education and eventually earned a Master’s Degree from Northeastern State College in Tahlequah, OK. Her first teaching assignment was in Cedar Creek, a one room school outside of Gore where she taught all 8 grades. There she met her husband, Harvey King Thomas, who was the auctioneer at a school pie auction. The money raised from the auction was used to buy Christmas gifts for the school children. They lived in a teacherage, provided by the school, for 6 years. The house and school had no electricity or running water and was heated by wood stoves. They moved to Stigler, OK where she taught elementary grades for a few years and eventually settled in Sallisaw, where she taught elementary grades and finished her career as a Kindergarten teacher. After retirement she continued to volunteer part time at Liberty Elementary while also working in several day care centers in Sallisaw. A career dedicated to teaching children for over half of her life.

After the death of Harvey, she married Leo Rushing of Stigler and they spent several years there and enjoyed traveling in their fifth wheel RV and spending the winter months in South Texas with friends.

Bettye was a member of the First Christian Church of Sallisaw and enjoyed many local activities and volunteer groups. She served as a Girl Scout Leader, enjoyed bowling, playing bridge, and participated in numerous activities with her many friends. She was also a great cook.

Survivors are:

2 daughters and sons in law: Sandee and Ron Tackett of Bella Vista, AR and Becky and Sam Randolph of Sallisaw, OK;

1 son and daughter in law: Randy and Brenda Thomas of Sallisaw, OK;

5 grandchildren: Emily Shackelford and husband, Jeff, Jeremy Tackett and wife Kristen, Hunter Randolph, Airon Gallegos, and Joshua Covey;

6 great grandchildren: Lauren Tackett, Jaedon and Rhett Shackelford, Ila and Ayson Tackett and Noah Covey;

Sister: “Cokie” Moore of Tulsa, OK;

Numerous nieces, nephews, other relatives and friends.

She was preceded in death by her parents, sister: Robbie Gulley and her husband John, brother: John Looper and his wife Annette and brother in law: Luke Moore.

Honorary Pallbearers will be Ron Tackett, Jeremy Tackett, Sam Randolph, Hunter Randolph, Bobby Randolph, Airon Gallegos, Joshua Covey and Jeff Shackelford.

Viewing will be 10 am – 8 pm Tuesday at Agent Mallory Martin Funeral Home in Sallisaw .

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to Sallisaw Education Foundation, Bettye Thomas Memorial Contribution, P.O. Box 276 – Sallisaw, OK 74955 .