Don Michael Betts, age 87, passed away Thursday, May 6, 2021, at Ascension All Saints Hospital. He joins his beloved wife Willie who passed on Sunday, April 25, 2021. Don was born in Sparta, WI, November 17, 1933, son of the late Donald J. and Helen (Nee: Perkins) Betts.
Don graduated from UW-Stout in 1967 with a master’s degree in Industrial Education. He proudly served in the U.S. Navy as a First Class Petty Officer aboard the US Lake Champlain from 1951 to 1956. On June 14, 1958, at Christ’s Church in Delavan, he was united in marriage to the love of his life, Willie (Wilma) J. Gordon. Don and Willie and children moved to Sturtevant in 1968 and to Racine in 1974. Don was an educator who taught at Racine Unified School District for 22 years and at Gateway Technical College for 15 years teaching machine shop and welding among others. He was a blacksmith for 63 years and was gifted by the Lord with a mind and hands to create metal sculptures, fireplace utensils and religious crosses. He loved all aspects of gardening. He and Willie worked together in their own tool sharpening business for 17 years and he owned and operated a firm building garages. Don was a gifted photographer and did his own photo finishing in his dark room after learning the trade working for his father. He lived a lifetime of volunteering, including at the Hospitality Center and Habitat for Humanity, and also spent early years helping out on family farms. He enjoyed woodworking and carving. He was a lifelong teacher, learner, and avid reader. Don was a member of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church and enjoyed singing in the church choir. He enjoyed singing with the Racine Dairy Statesman and Country Gentlemen barbershop choruses, various quartets, and the Great Lakes (Naval) Choir. Don was a wealth of information and a great storyteller. He treasured time with family. He was a devoted husband, father, and grandfather who will be dearly missed.
Don’s strong faith in the Lord Jesus Christ was very evident and he desired to have others know the hope found by putting trust and faith in Jesus. He also had a passion to pray for persecuted Christians around the world.
Surviving are 3 children, Kimberly (Paul) Schutz of Sun Prairie, WI, Stephanie (Rod) Voland of Neenah, WI, Michael Betts of Mt. Horeb, WI; grandchildren Ken Gordon, Danielle (fiancé Jake Meyer) Voland, Peter (Brittany) Voland, Courtney (Tyler) Lorenz, Paul Schutz, Susan Schutz and great-grandson Ryan Voland; sister Sandra Finch; in-laws, Susan Betts, Marcie Gordon, Kathy Gordon; nieces, nephews, other relatives and dear friends. In addition to his parents and wife he was preceded in death by his brother, Peter Betts; and in-laws, Joel and Douglas Gordon.