Betty Jean Collins grew up in the small town of Mattawa, Canada, came West to California in the 1950s with three other nurses seeking jobs and adventure, and stayed to raise a family and serve her community. She died on December 20 in her apartment at The Windham senior living complex in Fresno, three weeks short of her 91st birthday. Betty was a longtime resident of Ponderosa Basin and parishioner of St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Mariposa.
After graduating from the University of Ottawa School of Nursing in 1952 and moving to California, Betty Nadon was working as a registered nurse at Santa Monica Hospital when she fell in love with Robert (Bob) Collins at a Catholic young adults’ group. They were married at St. Andrew’s Church in Pasadena on September 10, 1955, and had just celebrated 60 years together when Bob died in 2015. Betty and Bob were great partners in life and on the dance floor.
After short stints for work in San Jose and Chicago, Betty and Bob settled in Canoga Park in the San Fernando Valley, making frequent family backpacking and fishing trips to the Sierra Nevada. Betty and Bob moved permanently to Mariposa County after she retired from her last paid job in nursing at the Motion Picture & Television Hospital in Calabasas, California. Betty remained a nurse and caregiver until the end, visiting the sick and shut-ins on behalf of St. Joseph’s and serving on a committee of retired nurses during the COVID pandemic at The Windham.
She raised three upstanding, caring and independent-minded children who have followed her example and their dreams: Catherine Jean Gentilucci (James) of Los Osos, California, Michael Joseph Collins (Lisa) of Alexandria, Virginia, and Mary Naomi Giles (Bill) of Sierra Vista, Arizona. Betty was a loving grandmother to Mary Catherine Skutley (Patrick) of Orangevale, California, and Anne Elizabeth Gao (Tony) Brookline, Massachusetts - and recently was blessed to meet her great-grandson Yaoting Theodore “Teddy” Gao.
She is also survived by her brother, Dr. Grant Nadon of Toronto, Canada. Her parents, Ruth and Wilfred Nadon, and three sisters, Dorothy Shaw, Claire Koma, and Marjorie Gibbons, preceded her in death. She will be missed by innumerable nieces and nephews, who remember her as a “strong and spirited” lady with a wry sense of humor and a nice smile that almost never appeared in photographs.
In retirement, she served in the women’s guild and as a Eucharistic minister for St. Joseph’s. Betty enjoyed gardening, traveling, daily walks and visiting with family - especially her granddaughters Mary and Anne and her great-grandson Theo, who she persisted in calling Teddy.
A funeral Mass and burial services will be scheduled at 11:00 am on January 15, 2022 at St. Joseph’s Church in Mariposa. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to Saint Agnes Home Health and Hospice, 6729 North Willow Ave., Suite 103, Fresno, CA 93710, Attention: Brandon Miller. The family extends its heartfelt thanks and sincere appreciation to the hospice staff and the employees and residents of The Windham for their care of our mother.
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