Betty Mae (Edwardsen) Kilburn departed this world on Wednesday, October 2, 2019, in San Luis Obispo, Calif., at the age of 85.
Betty was born November 12, 1933, in Dinuba, Calif., to Edward F. and Marie Edwardsen, the second of four children. The Edwardsens soon moved to Three Rivers, Calif., where they opened a butcher shop, grocery store, and restaurant.
Betty lived an idyllic childhood in Three Rivers, playing in the hills and along the Kaweah River with family and lifelong friends. She attended Three Rivers Union School before graduating from Woodlake Union High School in 1951.
In 1950, while still in high school, she met R.S. “Bud” Kilburn at the Woodlake Drugstore counter and after a bit of flirting, a lifelong love story was born. Bud and Betty married two years later, settled in Woodlake, and soon had three children: Ann, Lisa and David.
After the kids were all in school, Betty worked as the office manager of the University of California Lindcove Experimental Field Station for several years before finally retiring to work in her lovely yard, further explore the world, and simply enjoy her friends and family.
Betty was preceded in death by the love of her life and her husband of 58 years, Bud Kilburn; her parents, Ed and Marie Edwardsen; and two brothers, Edward and Charles Edwardsen.
She is survived by her sister, Christina Edwardsen of Visalia, Calif.; her daughter Ann of Davis, Calif., and granddaughter Kelly Baker of Sacramento; her daughter, Lisa and son-in-law Jim Maino of San Luis Obispo; and her son, David, and son-in-law David Perez of Atascadero.
While Betty spent last eight years bravely battling the ravages of Parkinson’s disease and related other ailments, she never, ever lost her zest for life. She loved gardening, hiking, cooking, and generally making others happy. At the Kilburn house, there was always an extra bed if someone needed it, another place at the table if someone was hungry, a glass of wine and a comfortable chair if someone needed to talk, and generally a hug and a kiss for everyone else.
Her love of life knew no bounds whether it was hiking the Mineral King mountains and trails, walking through wildflowers with her granddaughter while Bud snapped his inevitable pictures, working in her beautiful yard, getting the family together for the holidays (even if she DID have a chronic problem with burning the dinner rolls), or taking trips to Tahoe, Mexico, Denmark, Greece, France, Portugal, and more with family and friends, our lady was always up for an adventure.
Betty was a strong and supportive spouse, parent, grandmother, aunt, cousin, and friend. Her love, strength, and compassion were always on display, whether fiercely fighting for LGBTQ rights, helping friends receive fair treatment in ongoing immigration battles, or simply helping out others who were less fortunate.
Just like the flowers she shared that continue to grace the yards of family, friends, and neighbors, Betty will forever live in our hearts and continue to bloom, season after season, in the memories of all those she touched.
A memorial celebration will be held in near future in San Luis Obispo; details to follow. In the meantime, you might consider carrying out an unexpected and unsolicited act of kindness for someone down on his or her luck, in Betty’s name. That would make her smile that gorgeous smile of hers.
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