Elizabeth (Betty) L. Wight - 2019 Handcart Days Parade Grand Marshal

 

Elizabeth (Betty) L. Wight – born April 24, 1925 in Malad, Idaho

Her Grandparents and great grandparents emigrated from England, Wales, Germany & Scotland. They settled in Ohio, Illinois, Indiana, and Missouri, coming west at the same time as Mormon Pioneers. They homesteaded property in Malad, Idaho building log homes and clearing ground for farming.

She attended grade school in a 4 room country school house, with 2 grades in each room. During winter months they covered the distance by sleigh and bus. (No snow plows in those days.) The family moved to Malad after the first few years of grade school, and Betty finished high school there in 1941.

World War II began December 7th 1941; all of the boys were being drafted to serve in the military. Betty graduated early and accepted a job with the Union Pacific Rail Road as a telegrapher, during the last 6 months of her senior year of high school.

Married May 8, 1943, her husband left for the army two weeks later. He served in England, France, and Germany until 1946. Betty was transferred from Malad, Idaho to Brigham City, Utah where the railroad office was quite busy. Bushnell Hospital was in operation at the time and soldiers were being shipped from the Pacific war zone for treatment and rehabilitation to Brigham City, then on to facilities closer to their homes. Most of the soldiers had malaria, were amputees, or had Neuropsychological injuries. This was the main line of the railroad, and she had to process orders for soldiers on trains several times a day going both directions. They also received telegrams for Western Union at the same time. After spending 2 years there she was able to go to college at the University of Idaho in Moscow for one year.

Her husband returned from Germany and Betty spent the summer with Union Pacific as a telegrapher until they moved to Provo and attended college. They lived at Wymount Village on Campus, which were army barracks remodeled into apartments – two rooms and a bath with furniture partly made from orange crates and pillows for a sofa with single beds in the bedroom. There were hundreds of other returned veterans so it was great fun along with the academic environment.

Betty worked at a department store in American Fork while her husband went to school. She did accounting and office work. After 3 years of school my husband left school and accepted a job at this same department store as accountant and manager of the women’s department.

They had 3 children and Betty went to work for Geneva Steel as a secretary for one of the superintendent’s. Two years later one daughter contracted polio and Betty took a leave of absence lasting two years, then went back to work for 18 months. She was asked by the Mayor to come and work as the City Treasurer for American Fork, and worked there 3 years.

They opened their first store in 1965 in American Fork which Betty ran for several years. Her husband worked for ‘The Paris Company’ and later as a salesman for a lingerie company for 7 years. They opened the Wight House, in Bountiful Utah in 1967 and managed both stores from American Fork until 1972 when they opened another store in Logan, Utah and moved to Bountiful, a great place to live especially since it was located in between their stores.

She and her husband traveled to markets in Los Angeles, Dallas, and New York several times a year to acquire inventory for the stores and she wrote all of the purchase orders by hand, and did accounting reports for the stores. At the time there were $60,000 in accounts receivable and statements to send out and collect.

Betty was director of the Chamber of Commerce for three years. During that time she was involved in trying to get the Weber State Satellite to locate in Bountiful, but was not successful. She was extensively involved in the Women’s Republican Party, and belonged to the downtown merchants club throughout the years; involved with their joint projects. She worked with the city on a redevelopment project that placed the Wight House on the corner where it is located today. She also worked with the Mayor and City Council on downtown developments. Their family was always willing to help with any city initiative and was encouraged to be politically active.

She raised and educated three children each with a college education; one with a bachelor degree in business, a master’s degree in special education, and another with 3 years in business. Her husband contracted Alzheimer’s at the age of 56. They spent 4 years traveling to New York City, Mt. Sinai Clinic as part of a test program, hoping to find a cure. Meanwhile, they closed two of their stores in order for Betty to keep up with all the work. Her husband passed away in 1991 at age 67 having been able to stay at home for the duration of his illness.

The Wight’s re-opened their stores in Provo and Logan for several more years and their granddaughter currently owns the Bountiful store. Their family is close, getting together at least twice a year to enjoy family time and the legacy that started many years ago. They enjoy watching the Handcart Days parade every year, and are pleased to honor Betty as the Grand Marshal

Betty has been a member of the ‘Dancing Grannies’ for 25 years, and has entertained over 250 times at Care Centers and Senior Centers in Provo, Salt Lake, Idaho, Logan, Layton, and Bountiful.