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Betty Dean Jones of Harrisburg

  • Betty Dean Jones

    Betty Dean Jones

updated: 6/3/2022 1:22 PM

Betty ("Betty Lou") Dean Jones, 97 years young, passed away peacefully at home in her bedroom from childhood, on the evening of May 30, 2022.

Due to declining health, disability and the pandemic, she had been increasingly confined to home in the past two years, after a lifetime of work and active family and community involvement.

Her funeral service will be held at 11 a.m. on Saturday, June 4, 2022 at Reed Funeral Chapel in Harrisburg, Illinois, with Rev. Dr. Tom Logsdon, pastor of the Harrisburg First United Methodist Church, presiding. Visitation will be from 9-11 a.m. before the service, and burial will follow at the Sunset Cemetery in Harrisburg.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that memorial contributions be made to the Saline County Genealogical Society, the Harrisburg First United Methodist Church, the Harrisburg District Library, or the Bethesda Cemetery Fund, for the Wasson Family.

Betty was born Nov. 10, 1924 in Harrisburg, Illinois, to the late Orval Jennings Dean and Mabel May (Wasson) Dean. She grew up in Harrisburg, and graduated from Harrisburg High School in 1942, where she was president of the Emersons, and received a varsity letter for submitting the winning name, "Bulldogs" for the school's fledging sports teams.

Betty went on to attend the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana, where she majored in Industrial Design, a new field of professional practice at the time, and was president of the Alpha Phi Sorority on campus. She graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in 1946, becoming one of the first professional industrial designers in the country, and one of the first female industrial designers in the world at that time.

Following graduation, Betty moved to Dallas, Texas, to work, including a position with "Mister Buster." She later relocated to Chicago, where she worked in various design positions for Stuart-Warner, Waltman Studios and Peoples Gas Company of Chicago, eventually leaving the profession to marry David Henry Jones, of Omaha, Nebraska, and start a family.

Betty then completed a teaching certificate through Wheaton College in Wheaton, Illinois, and joined the "Dean Family Profession" as a teacher, teaching art to more than 1,000 elementary students weekly in the Naperville public schools. She taught a broad curriculum that included drawing and painting, weaving and ceramics.

She retired after 22 years in education, but later decided to return to work, working with the public in retail positions that included BooKids, a store dedicated to children's books and educational materials, This End Up, and then she worked until the age of 80 for the Naperville District Library, which for many years has been a top-rated district library in the country.

Retiring again at the age of 80, Betty moved back into her childhood home in Harrisburg, though with an active mind, curiosity, and a wide range of interests, she continued contributing through volunteer work, including for the Harrisburg District Library.

She was a member of several organizations, including the Saline County Genealogical Society and Saline County Homemakers, she supported local 4-H groups, and she continued to be actively engaged in continuing education in a variety of subjects.

Ever a teacher, Betty also continued to be very interested in the education of younger generations, especially through the Fine and Applied Arts. At the very end of her life, when she was largely confined to bed, she remained very concerned that she, "wasn't getting anything done."

She also attended the Harrisburg First United Methodist Church, and she was one of the eldest surviving members of the extended Wasson Family.

Betty was preceded in death by her grandparents, Val and Mellie Wasson, and John and Isabelle Dean; and her aunt, Carrie Bell Wasson, all of Carrier Mills, Illinois. She also survived her parents, Orval and Mabel Dean, of Harrisburg, and her older brother, James Wilbur Dean, who also grew up in Harrisburg, though he raised his family in Littleton, Colorado.

Surviving family members are her daughter, Dr. Jennifer England, currently in Harrisburg; her niece Deborah Gustafson, of Greenville Village, Colorado; her nephew John Dean, of Aurora, Colorado; along with their families, and also many Wasson cousins living both in and out of the local area.

Condolences may be sent to the family through the Obituary page at, though more importantly, we would request with gratitude that efforts be made to improve the lives and education of the coming generations, because that is actually what Betty would have most wanted. Thank you.

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