May 22, 2021
A wonderful woman passed last week at the age of 97.
May 4, 1924—May 14, 2021
She was born in Essexville, Michigan, to Sidney Willet a fisherman and Jennie Black. She grew up in Unionville and went to St. Mary's Hospital Nursing School in Saginaw graduating with the class of 1945. She married Earl Radina and they had four kids. In 1958 they moved to Phoenix, Arizona where Earl opened a cafe and she went to work as a nurse at St. Joe's Hospital. She was head nurse of Barrow's Neurological Institute from its founding until 1974.
Betty was widowed at age fifty when Earl passed away in August of 1974. She then took over the family restaurant, and ran Earl's Fine Foods in Phoenix until 2007.
"She loved Glen Miller, Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin. She was a big fan of James Garner. And she loved Laughlin, Nevada and she and her friends did numerous bus trips there and she and her gal pals loved to play poker. She was a poker fiend. She played Mahjong until she was 95 and consistently won."
"My brother Donnie told me about Verde Hot Springs where young college females were running around stark naked, so I dove up to the Verde Valley in my new Jeep and I had the only vehicle that could cross the river which is where the spring was. I saw plenty of naked females and drank beer with them. Late in the evening I decided to drive back to the Valley and on the way out of there, in the dark, I missed a turn and rolled my jeep. I remember crawling out of it and my arm was scraped up pretty bad and I sat down and went into shock. Fortunately, a couple of guys came down the road and pushed the jeep back upright. The battery was ripped out and ended up down in a side canyon and they went down and retrieved it and spliced the broken cables back together and got it running again. The whole fiberglass front was ripped off. So these guys got me back out on the road, and I didn't have insurance and I knew I couldn't go to a hospital and there was only one place where I could go to get medical care. I drove for two hours with one arm and went straight to my mom's house, arriving at four in the morning. I was crying when she answered the door in her nightgown. She took me into the shower and hosed me off, and then she dressed my wounds and bandaged me up. She helped me keep everything clean and she gave me the loving care I needed to carry on. Later when I was actually in the hospital for another serious injury she came in to see me as she did every night. She asked how I was doing and I told her that the IV in my arm was really hurting me, so she calmly leaned over and ripped it out which set off an alarm and the nurses came running in and they started yelling at her, but mom stood her ground and told them what they had done wrong and how to make it better, which they did. She knew more than they did. She was always our emergency room, no matter where she was."
"She loved the quail release in Cave Creek and she went every year."
"She was a Glen Miller, Frank Sinatra fan, but she adored Jon Bon Jovi and she liked that he never forgot his roots. She liked the idea he married his high school sweetheart. She didn't care if he was a rocker and I just think that is so cool."
"I remember her being a brownie troop leader when I was in third grade. I know she did cub scouts with my brother Don and Brad and my sister Debbie, as well. She was a very busy woman who made time for her kids."
"She had a quiet dignity about her but she often had a twinkle in her eye and a conspiratorial smile that conveyed to me she was up for almost anything. She was always quick with a quip especially when anyone got snotty around her. I think this stemmed from being the head nurse at Saint Joseph's Hospital which gave her a gravitas that commanded respect from everyone. She always defended me and she even lent me money for publishing one of my books. She was just the best. I often called her my favorite mother-in-law because I had another one who was pretty solid, but not as sweet as Betty Jean."
"I first met Betty in 1978. She was nice, smart and had a great sense of humor. I liked her immediately and that never changed - and neither did she. Rest In Peace Beautiful Betty."
"Every once in a great while, you have the great good fortune to meet someone really special. Betty Radina - Mrs. Radina was one of those people. She was kind, loving, caring and fun. I'm so fortunate to have known and loved her."
—Carole Compton Glenn