Born: 9 Feb 1927, Shamrock, TX         Henry #:

Died:  28 Nov 2006 at age 80.   Resided:Belen LeaCo. NM

Betty Gene Caperton, or as she was known, Mrs. Tibo J. Chavez, passed away on November 28, 2006 in the presence of her loving family. Betty was born in Shamrock, TX on February 9, 1927, but moved to Portales, NM at a very young age. She was raised by Rep. Coe Howard and Lillian Howard. As a child Betty excelled in her studies, played tennis and loved to sing and play the piano. Her favorite topics were English and History and she could debate any subject skillfully. She attended Eastern New Mexico University for two years and then completed a degree in political science by finishing the remaining two years at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque. During the summer months while attending school, and after graduation she worked at the State Capitol in Santa Fe. It was during this time that Betty met her future husband, Tibo J. Chavez. Betty often recalled the times that she would listen to him on the Senate floor with admiration. He was State Senator from Valencia County when they met and married. Shortly after their marriage, he announced for Lt. Governor and was elected in that position in 1950. Betty shared her husband's love of politics and public service. She considered it the greatest privilege to support him in every way possible in the many political campaigns and offices that he held. Together, Betty and Tibo devoted great passion and energy to the rearing of their four sons, Chris, Reggie, Tibo Jr. and David. They had horses and dogs and would often saddle up and ride in the open land in Belen, and were sometimes referred to as the "Chavez Posse." They enjoyed many wonderful years raising a family and then traveling together all over the world after the boys were grown. Betty was a charter member of the Beta Sigma Phi, a life long member of the Daughters of the Confederacy, served as the Secretary for the AARP Hub City Chapter, and was Honorary Chair for the UNM Valencia Campus Development Committee. She became immersed in New Mexico history and her love of this led to her involvement at the Harvey House Museum, Valencia County Historical Society and the University of New Mexico-Valencia Campus Cultural Series. She was named Citizen of the Year for 1998 by the Belen Chamber of Commerce and was very involved in the Onate Cuartocentenario celebration. She was also named a Top Ten Newsmaker from Valencia County because of her strong leadership in organizing both the first Founder's Day Celebration in honor of the first Spanish settlers to the river valley and the Columbus Day Celebration. Betty was invited to Spain as a guest of the Spanish Government and the twentieth generation descendants of Columbus. In 2002 she received the Dona Eufemia Award for her work in promoting and preserving the Spanish culture of New Mexico. Even more than her contributions to her community, Betty contributed tremendously to the growth and well-being of her family. She was a fiercely devoted wife, a loving mother and a grandmother who would drop whatever she was doing to pick a grandchild up at school or help them with a project. Betty had a vivacious and fun personality. She enthusiastically shared her appreciation for her family, her community and her country. Betty is survived by her four sons and daughter-in-laws, Chris and Mary, Reggie and Darlene, Tibo and Lana, David and Mary Ellen; ten grandchildren, Lisa (and spouse, Christian), Carlos, Juan Diego (and spouse, Cynthia), Joseph, Nicolas, Paul, Emily, Elaina, Zachary, and Caleb; and three great-grandchildren, Maya, Emery, and Elise. Services will be held at Our Lady of Belen Catholic Church on Friday, December 1, 2006 beginning with a public viewing at 6:30 p.m. followed by a Rosary at 7:00 p.m. Final visitation will take place on Saturday, December 2, 2006 at 8:30 a.m. with a Funeral Mass being celebrated at 9:00 a.m. with Father Stephen Schultz officiating. Interment will follow at Our Lady of Belen Catholic Cemetery. Pallbearers will be her grandchildren, Carlos, Juan, Joe, Nick, Paul and Zach. Honorary pallbearers will be Mike and Mary Merrell, Daniel and Tina Garcia, Hortencia Colmonero, Priscilla Reyes, Edenio and Corina Garcia, Salomon Montano, Robert Sanders, Alice Letteny, Judge John W. Pope, Judge William Sanchez, Judge Louis McDonald, the Belen Chapter of the Alpha Ki Omega, and UNM Campus Development Board. In lieu of flowers, donations are appreciated to be made to the UNMVC Betty Chavez Scholarship Fund. The family would like to thank Ambercare Home Health for their loving care and services they provided to Betty. Romero Funeral Home, 609 N. Main St., Belen. Visit online register at www.romerofuneralhomenm.com

Source: Albuquerque Journal, Albuquerque NM