The Voice of the Community Since 1909, Serving Moorcroft and Pine Haven, Wyoming

Charlotte Betts

Charlotte Betts, 79, passed away on March 6, 2024, at Rolling Hills Healthcare in Belle Fourche, South Dakota.

She was born on December 28, 1944, to Cecil and Louise Dandridge in Seattle, Washington. She spent her childhood in Lead, South Dakota, and then Spearfish Canyon. She graduated from Lead High School as a very proud member of the class of 1962.

She moved to California, where she lived the next four years, briefly marrying Bob Bender and giving birth to her first child, Cherie, in San Francisco. She grew homesick and returned to the Black Hills in 1966, where she met classmate Dan Dower at a dance.

She followed him to Norfolk, Virgina, where they married and lived while he was in the Navy. There, she had three children, David, Douglas and Cindee. They returned to the Black Hills settling in Spearfish but later divorced. 

In 1984, she met her best friend, John Betts, who she later married in 1992. In Spearfish, she was active in the Community Action Program and Food Pantry. This involvement led to her being hired as the Director of Senior Center, where she stayed until retirement in 1995.

The next year, John and Char bought land and moved to Pine Haven, Wyoming. They built their dream home nestled in the pines with views of Keyhole Lake. They had a wraparound porch where days were spent playing dominos and cards and enjoying the wildlife.

Retirement did not slow her down and Char was eager to help where help was needed and always with a smile on her face. She helped establish the Pine Haven Fire Auxiliary and Food Pantry and was President of Royal Neighbors of America Pine Haven chapter.

She and John were the grand marshals in the annual Pine Haven Labor Day parade in 2011, which filled them with pride. They were proud of their community and often referred to the Black Hills area as "God's country."

She helped organize all the class of 1962, Lead High School reunions, staying in touch with many classmates since graduation over the years, which gave her immense joy.

Char had a heart of gold, she never knew a stranger, kind to everyone. You felt relaxed and welcome when in her company. She was also known as the "Voice of Pine Haven" for many on the radio, and always ended her show with "Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take but by the moments that take our breath away." She is so deeply missed. 

She is survived by her son, Doug Dower; daughters, Cherie (Brian) McGrath and Cindee (Darrell) Wisnoski; stepdaughter, Christy Betts; stepson, Matthew (Petra) Budde; 12 grandchildren; and six great-grandchildren. 

She was preceded in death by her parents, Virgil and Louise Lakson; husband, John Betts; sister, Sandy Sandidge; brother, Virgil "Butch" Lakson; son, David Dower; and stepdaughter, Elizabeth Hudson.

Memorial services will be 10 a.m. on Tuesday, April 2, 2024, at Kinkade Funeral Chapel in Sturgis, South Dakota. Inurnment will follow at Black Hills National Cemetery near Sturgis.