Elizabeth C. Rion, 102, a resident of Aldersgate in Topeka, died peacefully surrounded by family on Wednesday, September 26, 2018.
Born in Wetmore on February 28, 1916, Betty attended Wetmore High School and then Kansas State University, majoring in journalism. In those years, she was known throughout the region as the “whistling soloist,” performing in various venues and on the radio. She taught school in Randall and Smith Center, and then worked for several years at the Veterans Administration in Horton. Her longest tenure was as Deputy Clerk in the Clerk’s Office of the Federal District Court in Topeka. Among her most interesting experiences were preparing the release of the famous 1954 Brown vs. Topeka Board of Education Supreme Court decision and corresponding often with Robert Stroud, the “Bird Man of Alcatraz” who kept submitting documents to the court. She was a long time member of First Methodist Church in Topeka.
Betty’s resilience, generous nature and good humor persisted throughout her life right up to her last day. She often entertained younger family members with stories of growing up in farm country and at the small local bank her family ran in Wetmore. She was challenged when she and the late Robert Rion divorced in 1946, going on to raise two boys at a time when people didn’t necessarily respect a divorced woman. The character and accomplishments of her sons, Michael and the late Paul Rion, gave her much pride.
In addition to Michael and wife Nancy of West Hartford, Connecticut, and daughter-in-law Nancy Wood Rion of Topeka, she is survived by granddaughters Debbie Rion and family of Springfield, Missouri, and Cathy Rion Starr and family of West Hartford, Connecticut, and grandsons David Rion and family of Windsor, Connecticut, and Carter Rion, of West Hartford, Connecticut. Another grandson, Todd Rion of Topeka, predeceased her. Betty also leaves 6 great grandchildren and 5 great great grandchildren.
A celebration of Betty’s life will be held at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, October 6, 2018 in the Elmhurst Dining Room at Aldersgate Village, 3220 SW Albright Drive, Topeka. Private inurnment will take place at a later date in Wetmore, Kansas.
Memorial gifts may be made to the Good Samaritan Fund at Aldersgate Village, 7220 SW Asbury Drive, Topeka, Kansas 66614.
Penwell-Gabel Mid-Town Chapel is handling arrangements. To leave a special message for Betty's family please click the "Share Memories" button above.