Betty Weir Bell passed peacefully in her sleep on Friday, March 6, 2020, and oh, girl, did she have a spectacular run through this thing called life.

Betty was born in Columbus, Ohio, June 20, 1924, to Charles and Mary Tobin Weir. Along with her siblings—Margret, John, Patricia and JoAnn—the family soon moved to Omaha, Neb. Though her birthplace was the Midwest, she was certainly not a Midwestern girl! She became one of the youngest pilots to solo at age 16. Betty was ready to join the WACs after graduation from Central High School, but as The War was winding down, the program was disbanded. A deeply disappointed Betty was advised by a wise mother to give Sun Valley, Idaho, a try. And like many Midwestern youth, found her way to Sun Valley via the resort’s owner, Union Pacific Railroad. As a soda fountain jerk at the Challenger Inn, she met the love of her life, Ned Bell, a bellman at the Sun Valley Lodge. Their marriage became even more noteworthy for the love and respect they had for one another even after their divorce.

Betty immediately got on the fast track (that was her trademark) shortly after arriving in Sun Valley. A few notables were competing in the 1952 Winter Olympics in Oslo, Norway, competing in the original Diamond and Gold Sun races down Baldy, the European Birkebeiner, the Tri-Elephant-a-thon and many others, all while raising four children. Betty, and her good friend Vicki Graves spearheaded the Shamrock Relays and the infamous hazing Instructor Days in the late ’50s through the ’70s.

Betty was a three-handicap golfer and keen tennis player. She started flying again in her 40s and much to the consternation of Ned, landing her Piper Cub on the Sun Valley golf course. Good thing it was ‘slack,’ Ned thought. She also earned her A.T.P. and flew hundreds of roundtrip charter flights to Salt Lake and Boise before there were scheduled flights to Hailey. Betty also became a flight instructor and taught many local women and men to become pilots. Betty opened a Nordic cross-country center with a tiny retail/rental shop on the Bigwood Golf Course that had by coincidence been a dirt airstrip she used for landing.

Betty was an avid reader and frequent visitor to The Community Library. She also was an aspiring writer with her column, Small Potatoes, in the Idaho Mountain Express and articles in a few national magazines.

Betty was preceded in death by her husband, Ned, and daughter, Dusti. She is survived by her daughters, Andy Bell and Bridget Cimino; her son, Dave Bell; and granddaughter, Ebi Bell.

Betty would not pick a pedestrian, well-liked animal as her favorite totem. She chose the beautiful, intelligent magpie and had a notorious love for them. When you see a magpie, an especially precocious one—you know the one with the mischievous glint in its eye—think of Betty. Also, should you see a worm struggling to get off the drying bike path after a rain, give it a nudge to the dirt as Betty would have. If you are inclined, a donation to the Hospice of the Wood River Valley or to The Community Library would be appreciated.

We will miss you, Mom/Nana. A celebration of life will take place in the summer. Please share a memory or a photo and light a candle at woodriverchapel.com.