As I walked into my neighbor’s house, Betty Lilly, I was greeted by her right away. One of the first things I noticed when I entered her house was this quote on her wall: “Family: like branches on a tree, we all grow in different directions yet our roots remain as one.” This is the perfect quote for somebody like Betty, and it made me feel as if I was at home.
Betty Lilly was born on December 19, 1934. She has not lived in Lyons her whole life. She came from a small town of Sturgeon, Pennsylvania. Her life in Sturgeon was a very peaceful and enjoyable time. One of Betty’s favorite memories from living in Pennsylvania was going up to the mountains and looking over at the rivers coming together.
In 1958, Betty and her husband finally moved to Nebraska. Betty’s husband was building a house for his parents here in Lyons. When Betty was 23 she moved to Lyons, Nebraska. Lyons was completely different than it is now. I asked Betty, “What would you say are some of the things that have changed over the years in Lyons?” When Betty looked out her big window in the living room, I knew she was remembering. She said there were a lot more businesses – 2 lumberyards, 2 drug stores, and 3 stores. As I learned how Lyons has changed drastically, I think of how it would have been to have more businesses than we have now. She has always enjoyed small towns and that is one of the reasons she has great fondness about this town.
There are always some memorable and exciting years in people’s lives. Betty’s best memory was the birth of her twins. There have also been others as important as that one. Betty loves her family dearly. She looks forward to seeing her 15 grandchildren and 11 great grandchildren. In addition, in 2003, Betty went back to her hometown in Pennsylvania for her class reunion. She inspired and taught me that no matter how far you are from your hometown, you still go back to see your long-time friends.
Cooking and sewing are two of Betty’s favorite hobbies. When her children were little, she would sew them their clothes and scarfs. With her girls, she would sew them their prom dresses. It was so special and it meant so much to her to sew her children the clothes they needed. She said, “It is very sad that today’s kids don’t appreciate gifts that are handmade.”
There is something special that Betty saw in Lyons. She said, “It was the people here who were so much nicer and kinder than the people back in Pennsylvania.”
Betty gave me some good advice that everyone needs to know: “Always be nice to others. If you are nice to everyone, people will be nice to you.” I will always have her advice in my mind whenever I get mad or frustrated at someone. A coal miner’s daughter taught me so much.