Obituary self-authored by Betty Christensen
I was born February 7, 1925 to my parents Clarence and Jessie France, in Northwich, Cheshire, England. Growing up in a large family, I had two older brothers and eight younger siblings; we also had one brother that lived only two hours after being born.
I met my future husband, Bartell, when he was stationed with the U.S. Army in Delamere Forest, near my home, during World War II. We met when he was leaving a dance and my friends and I were just arriving. Seeing us, he turned around and came back and asked me to dance, and that was the rest of the evening. He asked if he could walk me home and I told him “No, I have to go back with the girls I came with”. He said, “I will find you”, and he did. My uncle was a military policeman that lived close to us and Bart asked him if he knew me. My uncle replied, “I will take you there”.
My parents liked Bart from the first meeting; we knew each other for six weeks before his unit, the 16th Engineers, was transferred to Africa and Italy. Prior to deploying, Bart asked my dad for my hand in marriage; dad told him, “if you feel the same way when the war is over, we will be happy to bring you into the family”.
I wrote to Bart for five years, and to his sister Gladys. His brother Lee, who was stationed in Germany, also came to visit. It was very hard and took two years to get all the paperwork for me to enter the United States; Bart’s Stake President in the U.S., President Strong, helped a lot to make things happen.
I came to the United States on a Canadian troop ship, arriving in Nova Scotia in January 1947, and then traveled by train to New York where Bart and his brother Nolan met me. Leaving New York, we traveled to Pocatello, Idaho to the home of Bart’s sister Alice, where we were married on February 15, 1947; I was twenty-two years old. Following our marriage, we moved to Driggs; it was a different country than I was raised in and I thought, “this is the end of the earth”!
We initially lived in a one-room place with no running water, no bathroom, and a stove and a bed. I scrubbed the wood floor every day. Bart started to build our house when Clark Harshberger deeded the land to us for one dollar; we would get up at 4:00 am to go after gravel to make the basement and we worked on the bedrooms at night putting the in the hardwood floors. There were dishes in boxes in the kitchen. Just doing the best we could do. But is was “our” house! And that’s the main thing!
When I left England my parents told me, “whatever you do, go to church”, which I did. I had never heard of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, but I was made welcome by Sister Ella Driggs, Sister Leona Grover and many others. These sisters were my great friends until their passing. Contrary to our custom in the U.K., I was never confirmed to the Church of England when I was sixteen; I felt the Lord had other things in mind for me.
The LDS missionaries contacted us and they came to our home; I think I disappointed them because I wasn’t ready for a quick answer. I believe I had four sets of missionaries and weekly “cottage meetings” with a group of us in our home. One day, I knew from my studies what my duty was; I was ready to commit and I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that the prophet Joseph Smith was truly a prophet of God.
I was baptized on October 7, 1953. Having two children at the time, when I was confirmed it was a thrill and the most inspirational feeling! I felt the presence of the Lord release everything from my body and a renewal took place and I knew I had done what my Saviour wanted of me! Another big day came when we were married in the Idaho Falls Temple on March 16, 1955, for all time and eternity. What a great gift it was in our lives; we had the children sealed to us forever.
I love the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and my membership in it and I try always to honor it. I sincerely testify that the gospel of Jesus Christ is true and I say these things in His name. Amen