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  • Writer's pictureAmyanne rigby

Solitude- for Betty

Updated: Apr 14, 2023

Amy Johnson Crow's challenge this week is the theme SOLITUDE. I chose to write about my Aunt Betty Hofheins Byrge who died in a house fire with her two daughters, Frances Mae (9) and Stacey Lee (8) in the early morning hours of August 12, 1977 in Price Utah. Betty left behind a six year old son and a husband. Betty was 29 years old


Summer's heat sings

Gerbers dance

Crickets chirp

She pauses

kisses, nuzzles and lullabies.

Friday, 2 AM

Heat singes the blackened night

Smoke engulfs her home

Panic rips through her young frame.

Grabbing 6 year old Travis

Betty escapes the fire

Calculating every minute,

Every breath...

for survival,

for Stacey, for Francis.

Delivering Travis to safety,

She turns, frantically

to save them.

Suddenly impeded,

Three men grab her,

Hoping to save

this mother.

Breaking free,

driven by

a mother's will

She returns to

the flames

-to Stacey

-to Francis

to hold them

as the fire

Steals their last breath.

At the coal mines,

Frank receives the news.

Travis’s soot stained face

turns to face

the blaze alone.

His small stoic frame

Absorbs the stench

That stole everything

from him...


Epilogue: I like to think the scent of Gerbers lingered in the soft summer air the night of August 11th as Betty tucked her three small children into bed with a kiss on the cheek and a nuzzle on the nose. But I can only imagine how the last night of a mother of three was spent. Betty loved to arrange flowers and enjoyed getting her fingers grimy while working on the family car. She was smart and talented and loved small children and enjoyed listening to the stories of the elderly. She was a sympathetic listener. It is reported that an avalanche of flowers welcomed her casket at her funeral.

Betty graduated from Beaver in 1966, and she left her home in 1967 after marrying Frank Byrge. My mother remembers a phone call from Betty shortly before her death. My mom sensed her sister was down. Betty expressed her thoughts about her life." I'm not afraid to die?" Mom replied, " I wish I could say that." She then questioned Betty, "How do you know that?" Betty replied, " I feel like I have had my share of hell on earth."

SOLITUDE means alone, secluded.

The family never to my recollection every spoke of Betty's death or the children. Our interaction was little to none with Travis. On that August morning, My mother who was just three months away from delivering her 7th child in what would be a deathly struggle for her, wished she had possessed the fortitude and the means to raise Travis. But to strip a heart broken husband and father of his last living child did not seem like the answer either.

The news of Betty, Francis's and Stacey's death arrived to my home on 2nd East in the early hours of August 12, 1977. My brothers had just returned from their paper route greeted by the unexpected visit of my Aunt Starr and Uncle Bernell sitting in the couch with tears streaming down their cheeks. I slept soundly in a nearby room in my footie pajamas clinging to my sisters with my chubby hands. I have no memories of my Aunt Betty in this life.

However on July 6, 2022, I was accompanying a group of high school students to a leadership camp at Utah Technical University in St. George Utah when I received a phone call from our missionary son who was serving in Florida. Earlier that morning as I drove to St. George, I was prompted to pray for safety. So recognizing this prompting like others I had received, I prayed aloud while traveling in my car. That evening when the caller ID read his Alabama area code, my heart sunk.

His initial conversation began, "Mom, I am okay... But I have been in a car accident. Stockton later went on to share how he felt the presence of a ministering angel while at the hospital that evening and how he later came recognize this "angel" as Aunt Betty. He said he needed to talk to Grandma about her Sister Betty. Stockton shared with my mother how Betty was now free and she was happy and she was doing great things. My mother's heart lifted- I'm sure free from the worry and guilt she had carried since that summer August morning in 1977.

Solitude means peace.

Rest in Peace my sweet Aunt Betty. We will be watching for you as you linger in Solitude near our sweet Stockton.

Betty HofheinsByrge

FrancesMae and





asphyxiation,a resultofafirein

their home

BettyHotheinsByrewas born

Feb.20,1948inBeaver.Utah, a

daughterofOra and Lucile Evans


Byrge, Aug.19, 1967,Carbonville.


H.,both Carbonyl lle, parents,Mr.




(Janet)Weaver,born CedarCity,

Kent, Mrs. Claude(Joyce)Alsip,


Schmid, Las Vegas,Nev.

FrancesMae BYrge, born Mar.


Price Elementary


1969,Sall Lake City. StudentPrice



aretheirlather,brotherand the




Glen, Carbon County.




may callMitchellFuneralChapel'




BurialMountainView Cemeter


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