In memory of

Betty L. Spear, age 94, of Helena

April 9, 1925 – November 25, 2019

Foster- Spear, Betty Lee

On Monday, November 25th, Betty Lee Foster-Spear peacefully passed away in the arms of family while in the care of the Cooney Convalescent Home. Betty was born in Rockford, IL on April 9, 1925. Because of the Great Depression the family moved to Billings MT where her dad was offered an apprenticeship as a baker. She remembered her dad standing out behind the bakery in the morning handing out “day old’ bread to, what seemed to her, scores of hungry people. This may be where she developed her ever present caring for others as she always took in anyone who needed a meal. Around the time she was beginning school, the family moved to Helena, where her father, Albert Borsberry was a lead baker for Eddy’s Bakery and attended Central School. She later graduated from Helena High but because of the 1935 earthquakes damage to the Helena schools, she went to Harlowton, MT to attend school while living with her aunt and uncle.

After High School, she met her 1st husband, Robert (Bob) Foster, a handsome young man from California who was attending Carroll College training for the war effort. They had 3 children together, Michael, Susan and Patrick. They divorced in 1966.

Betty worked as an administrative assistant/manager most of her career including at the Federal Reserve Bank of Helena, several downtown businesses, GSA Motor Pool and the Bonneville Power Administration, Covington Sub-station in Washington where she retired.

Betty always said she was a “Tom Boy” and was afraid of almost nothing. She would climb the rocks on the face of Mt. Helena as a child, enjoyed anything out of doors, tent camping, time at the family cabin in Tucker Gulch and adventures like exploring Ophir Cave in her mid-60’s. She loved animals. She took in stray dogs or cats and her house was often a menagerie bob cat, porcupine, rabbits, guinea pigs, horned toads, chipmunks, snakes, skunk, Owl etc.).

She was an accomplished bowler, 200 Club member and had dozens of bowling trophies. At 5’nothing and not much over 100 pounds she used a 14# ball and threw it harder than most men could throw a 16#)

Betty was a fabulous cook which she got from her Mother, Mildred. She loved gardening, (she called it “Grubbing”) and decorated her many gardens with rocks from all over. Everyone was welcome in her house and she treated her kid’s friends as if they were her kids. She would often come home to find it filled with kids of all ages raiding her refrigerator, watching TV, listening to music or otherwise “hanging out. Once she walked into her living room filled with teenagers and said “What do you think this is, a flop house?” It was known to many as “Betty’s Flop House” after that. She was also an immaculate housekeeper. It was said that you could eat off of her floors they were so clean. She would even starch and iron her family’s sheets and underwear.

After moving to Washington, she married Ober Spear. They were together until shortly after they moved back to Helena in the late 90’s when they separated.

Betty is survived by her children, Michael (Margaret), Susan Krug (Dale), and Patrick (Becky), her Grand Children Todd (Stephanie), Callie Foster Biesemeyer, Stephanie DeRosier (Rob Clement), Sky (Stacey Anderson) and Jaret (Mona Johnson) along with her grandchildren (5), great-grandchildren (19), & great great-grandchildren (7) whom she especially loved.

She was preceded in death by her parents and brother, Larry E. Borsberry whose sons, Kelly, Tim and Pat, were most close and precious to her.

Betty loved everyone and was loved by all who knew her. Her family would like to thank the good folks at Sharon’s Sunshine Care Assisted Living for the years of loving care they provided and all of the staff at Apple Rehab / Cooney Convalescent Home.

Funeral Mass will be celebrated at 12:00 p.m. on Friday, December 6, 2019 at Ss. Cyril & Methodius Catholic Church, 120 W Riggs St, East Helena, MT 59635, barring any major earthquakes. A reception will follow the mass in the fellowship hall of the church. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to Helena Food Share, P.O. Box 943, Helena, MT 59624-0943. Burial will take place at Forestvale Cemetery in the Spring. Please visit below to offer the family a condolence or share a memory of Betty.


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  1. Mike Foster says

    I have had many elderly role models in my life, but Mom is one of the greatest! Up until she broke her 1st hip, at age 88, she would walk 2-5 miles a day. The Orthopedic Surgeon that repaired her hip said, right after surgery, “I can’t believe what good shape she is in for her age”! When I explained to him what her daily routine was, he said “that explains everything”! I am “71” (elderly by many standards) and people keep telling me I need to quit doing the things I do, as I’m too old to do them. My response is, “I have had many great role models and I’m going to keep doing what I can until I can’t anymore”. Thanks Mom, for being one of my greatest !

  2. Connie Beckman says

    Dear Mike and Margaret and family,
    You are in my prayers as you grieve the loss of your mom. What a beautiful, strong woman Betty is. I admire her “Lets get it done,” attitude. What a beautiful obituary and tribute to your mom. She had a very kind heart opening her home to kids, and stray animals alike. I only had an opportunity to meet your mom once. I remember what a delightful women she is. Now our beloved sweet Betty is in the arms of Jesus and perhaps surrounded by all of her stray animals she cared for throughout the years.
    Many roses of prayers to you and your beloved family,
    Love Connie

  3. I am so sorry. I remember you visiting you mom, Your were so great with all the people at the table.

  4. Marlyn Rogers says

    That was a great tribute and obituary for your mom. She sure sound like a caring person for people and animals alike. She sure had a great fulfilling life. She is surely in a much greater place now free of pain and worries. Will continue to pray for the repose of her soul. Missing you Michael and Margaret.

  5. Several times throughout the day yesterday, thoughts of Aunt Betty popped up and also images of you,(Mike and Margaret) surrounded by family and friends coming together to honor Aunt Betty and say goodbye. Not knowing when the memorial service was to be scheduled, I guess I was feeling connected to you all as you prepare to bring closure to your loss. Your tribute above portrays a life SO well-lived and SO much love always present in, around, and because of Aunt Betty. She lived a complete life and experienced and GAVE great beauty and love during that life. And now I hope you feel comfort in knowing that she has completed such a well-lived life. I’ll be thinking of you all on the 6th and sending love and comforting energy to you all. Peace to your hearts.

  6. Kathy (Dunlap) Fritz says

    Dear Mike, Sue and Pat, I am so sorry to see of the passing of your Mom. Know you are all in my thoughts and prayers. She was a beautiful, classy lady and a great neighborhood Mom. Actually, oddly enough, I was thinking about your folks just the other day and all the times they took us to the drive-in movies. I spent a lot of time at your house on Logan, the best of times. Your Mom was always so nice and welcoming. She did have a life well-lived. It’s too bad we don’t live in Helena, because I would certainly be at the service to celebrate her life and to reconnect with you guys again. What great memories I have of growing up with you as neighbors. God Bless you all. In sympathy and love, Kathy

  7. Jaret Foster says

    In the fall of 1989 my family visited my grandmother at her home in Washington for thanksgiving with her. She lived outside of the little town of Port Susan which at the time I thought was funny because my aunts name, her daughter, is named Susan. We drove out over Snoqualmie Pass and stopped to stretch our legs on a little hike up to a falls by the road. Mom stayed back to fix sandwiches and on the way back we’d somehow stirred up a hornets nest in the duff. We screamed and ran and swatted each other back to the car. I believe I was traumatized by those bees and as mom tells it she was ready to kill my dad after seeing him repeatedly smacking her boys on the head as we waited to cross the road.
    We arrived at grandma Bettys place to the warmth, comfort and beautiful aroma of a full thanksgiving meal being prepared in her tiny kitchen. Roast turkey, stuffing, mash, greens, pies and ginger cookies (super buttery and soft from the coastal humidity). Nothing short of everything. I’d never seen nor smelled anything like it. She was finishing the gravy, scraping up every bit from the roasting pan and swirling flour into the drippings. Before even setting down to eat I could tell she’d poured her heart into the cooking and felt deeply loved.
    And then it happened. She’d turned away, probably to embrace one or the other of us, and she burned the gravy. Or at least she believed she’d burned the gravy and therefore the meal was ruined. “Oh Hell!” She’d said. But as we all sat down and praised her efforts and dug in to one of the absolute finest meals of my young life (the gravy was rich,nutty,dark and delicious) she wouldn’t have it. She was pissed. Wouldn’t let it go. Was really and truly upset by it. I’ll never forget how she set her jaw and wouldn’t forgive herself for the misstep, one that not a person at the table would have ever even noticed had she not brought it up. It’s honestly one of the more significant moments in my life as a cook that has taken me years to understand. I think I’m a bit better at it now, the letting go, but I still feel that internal pressure, to make it right, from heart, pushing myself for myself and all the praise in the world, no amount of oohs and ahhhs from the table can make it good unless I make it better next time.

    I take this learning from you Betty and it has made me a better chef and more importantly, a better human. You are loved and you will be missed.
    Your Grandson,


  8. To all of Betty’s loved ones. She was so dear to my heart, and such a fun person to hang around with. Thank you all for sharing her with me, and the CB rest of the world. I’ll miss her, as you all will. Big hugs!

  9. Rick O’Connell says

    Mike and Margaret. Sorry to hear of your mom’s passing. What a great lady who brightened the lives of everyone she knew. She’s a role model for some of us “elderly people” at 71. Like my mom said “Damn that was fun!”
    Rick and Jan

  10. Pat Reichert says

    Mike and Margaret. So sorry for your loss. Listening to your memories of your Mom, it sounds like she had a personality that was larger than life, which gives rise to incredible memories that will last forever. May you take solace in those memories. God bless.

  11. Maureen Piersak says

    With the adoption of our son, Gabe, we became a part of your family. Not only did Mike, Margaret and Callie welcome us into your family but Betty did as well. We loved Betty and will miss her. I imagine her in heaven arranging and rearranging her garden to an exquisite masterpiece! Rest in peace, Betty in the loving arms of Jesus

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