On Christmas Day, 1923, Betty Jane (Eckhardt) Sell was born to Peter and Edith (Smith) Eckhardt. She grew up on the family farm east of Traer and attended country school, Perry Township, and graduated from Traer High School in 1941. On December 11, 1946, Betty was united in marriage to Raymond Sell at the Little Brown Church. Six children were born to this union. Betty and Ray raised their family on a farm near Dinsdale until moving to Traer. Ray passed away in 1957.
As a single mother, Betty worked at Funk’s Seed Corn, did private housekeeping, and was a substitute cook for the North Tama School Hot Lunch Program. Betty married Harry Sell on September 17, 1960, at the Little Brown Church. Following their marriage, they lived in Traer and became the parents of a daughter, Barbara. They were now a family with 7 children. Harry’s death occurred in 1966. Soon after Harry’s death, Betty started working full-time at the Lunch Program, eventually becoming head cook. She very much enjoyed her work with the Lunch Program, serving 3 generations of students and serving approximately 600 meals daily. She started a “Senior Citizen Dinner,” inviting senior citizens to the school monthly for dinner followed by a program by elementary students. Betty retired from the Lunch Program in 1996, after 34 years of service.
Betty also enjoyed working at Vesely’s Drive Inn and was the custodian of the Traer Presbyterian Church for 20 years. She was a member of the Traer Presbyterian Church. She enjoyed the simple joys of life, including making peanut brittle with Arvella at Christmas time, being an avid reader of the Waterloo Courier, and making large Sunday dinners. A Few of her favorite things were Community Center Activities, pizza parties at the Pizza Palace with lady friends, trips to Washington, D.C. (especially the Smithsonian), Yellowstone, Branson, and Epcot. Her favorite performers were Johnny Cash, John Denver, and Charley Pride and his song Crystal Chandelier. Silver Bells won her vote for best Christmas song. It was her long-standing tradition to keep bags of homemade cookies in the freezer for all to snitch and enjoy. Betty prided herself on being independent and keeping up with technology and current events, even at an advanced age. She always took pride in a job well done.
Betty died at the age of 96 on March 10, 2020, at Sunrise Hill Care Center in Traer. Those left to cherish her memory are her children, Donna Hansen of Vinton, Sandy Moore of Waterloo, Ron (Sherry) Sell of Traer, Shirlee (Brian) Bouck of Cedar Falls, Jan Vesely of Traer, Pete (Joleen) Sell of Waterloo, and Barb (Merle) Wickman of Milford; 15 grandchildren; 32 great grandchildren; several step grandchildren and step great grandchildren; and nieces and nephews. Betty was preceded in death by her parents; husbands, Ray Sell and Harry Sell; brothers and sisters-in-law, Bob (Rosetta)Eckhardt and Fritz (Agnes) Eckhardt; sisters and brothers-in-law, Marion (Allen) Kriz, Emojean (Ward) Williams, and Marge (Leonard) Axon; brothers, Dean Eckhardt and Baby Boy Eckhardt; three sons-in-law, Don Moore, Rick Vesely, and Bill Hansen; and two infant great grandchildren.
The visitation will be on Thursday, March 12, 2020, from 4:00 to 7:00 PM at the Overton Funeral Home in Traer. The funeral will be on Friday, March 13, 2020, at 10:30 AM at the Traer United Presbyterian Church. Burial will follow in West Union Cemetery east of Traer. Please direct memorials to Betty’s family, a donation will be made to the Traer United Presbyterian Church and St. Jude Children’s Hospital.
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