Life Sketch of Betty Karen Purdum
By: Pam Shumway
My mom was my protector, my teacher, my example, my conscience, my best friend.
Betty Karen Purdum was born May 21, 1940 in Lava Hot Springs, Idaho at Uncle Ellis’ farm. She was the fourth of six girls born to George Christian Christiansen and Mary Elizabeth Symons Christiansen. She attended school in Lava Hot Springs, and Arimo, Idaho until the 11th grade when she started working to help support the family.
She met Rockne DeLorie Purdum in 1958 while working as a waitress at the Silver Grill Café. To hear dad talk about the incident, it was love at first sight. She had the longest legs he had ever seen. Rockne told the guy he was with that she was the woman he was going to marry. They were married December 6, 1958 as a birthday present for her sister, Aunt Lois. They were married for 58 years.
Being a railroad wife came with a lot of travel and towing a trailer behind the car. They lived in Glens Ferry, Montpelier, Twin Falls, Dubois, McCammon, Deweyville, Pocatello, and many others.
I was born into the ready-made family in 1960 and Jerry in 1962.
Mom was basically a stay-at-home mom except for a few waitressing jobs at the Silver Grill, Cloverleaf, and Burger Den restaurants.
Mom was always available to anyone in need. She would be the first to step up and help with anything that needed to be done.
Mom and Dad spent the bulk of their life in Deweyville, Utah. The later years of Dad’s working life were spent in the shops in Pocatello, Idaho. They purchased a piece of property – mainly swamp – on the Indian reservation called Big Sky Trailer Park. With years of hard work and lots of rock and dirt hauling mom had the place looking like a park.
Mom was known to be a fabulous cook who could produce a feast in a matter of minutes with no advance warning. No one ever left her house hungry. In fact, she was the first in her family to start the tradition of a family Thanksgiving dinner for the entire family- Christiansen and Symons alike. Kenderik would never miss a chance to eat her “dirt” pie at Thanksgiving. To everyone else it was pumpkin pie.
After moving to Pocatello, Mom and Dad came yearly to share Christmas with my family making things even more special for my children and other family members.
Jerry remembers Mom always being there for him no matter what. She would spend endless nights teaching him with flash cards or going over math problems to get him through school. Mom and Dad were his life line while he was going through his divorce.
Our family has always been a close one. We have had family camping trips with 50+ people from three states. Kira remembers getting her first stitches while camping with Grandma and Grandpa at Redfish Lake. Kira, Tyler, Cody, Blake, Kenderik, and Leigh Anne all remember spending time camping with Grandma and Grandpa as well as Aunt Lois and Uncle Dennis
Mom loved animals – any animal. One thing that was hard for Mom on her move to Boise was losing her beloved next door neighbor horses and her rabbits. In Boise they were replaced by squirrels, birds, and humming birds in the back yard as well as my dogs. She and Lacey had a very close relationship and took lots of naps together. Mom enjoyed feeding Momma squirrel by hand each morning when she was able to.
Mom also greatly enjoyed trips to Fort Hall for gambling. She and her sisters went as often as possible. They loved spending time gambling, shopping, garage sales, antique stores, or anything they could think of.
In 2013 due to failing health, Mom and Dad moved to Boise to be closer to David and I. After mom fell and broke her hip, I moved in to take care of the two of them.
In 2015 when Kira and Jason found they were expecting a little girl into their family and told mom they were going to name the baby girl after her. It was the best gift she could receive. This partially explains the special relationship between Mom and Karena.
Every Thursday Helen and Mary Lou and sometimes Lois came to do Mom’s hair. Cut, curl, or perms, whatever was needed. She loved the time they spent talking for hours, drinking Dutch Brothers Carmel Macchiatos, eating lunch, or donuts, or apple pies from McDonalds.
We also lost Dad in 2015 and Mom put all her hopes and dreams on her grandkids and great grandkids. They meant so much to her. Every time she came in the house from the garage she would have to touch the handprint that Jaxson put on the wall in the garage while the house was getting painted for them to move in. Taking care of Karena for the last four years has been a real delight of Mom’s life. This last summer has been hard for Mom to keep track of time and the days of the week without Karena’s comings and goings. Mom looked forward to each week when Kira, Jason, Jaxson, and Karena came to mow the lawn and sometimes have dinner.
Mom will be remembered for her loving style, great whit, devil-may-care, and up-for-anything attitude. She will be greatly missed by her children Pam and Jerry and their families; sisters – Mary Lou Shumway, Thelma Burlingame, Lois (Dennis) Stone, and Helen Harris (Dave Reyes). She is preceded in death by her husband Rockne, parents George and Mary, sister Dora, brother-in laws Tom Burlingame, Keith Shumway, Doug Harris, and Van Purdum; as well as many family members.
We are all so glad you are now in heaven with Dad. Keep an eye on us as we think of you both often.
A visitation for family and friends will be held from 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm, Tuesday, July 16, 2019 at Bowman Funeral Parlor, 10254 W. Carlton Bay Dr. in Garden City. A graveside service will be held at 11:00 am, Wednesday, July 17, 2019 at the Idaho State Veterans Cemetery, 10100 N. Horseshoe Bend Rd. in Boise.