Bettye died in Midland, Texas on December 17, 2022 after a long life, diverse and well spent. The only child of early Houstonians Carl Phillips and Rubye Applegate Phillips, Bettye was born in Mart, Texas on June 22, 1927. She grew up in the city but with close ties to rural Mart and her Texas pioneer grandparents there.
A natural and incredibly talented artist, the Houston Lamar High School beauty queen was a scholar who graduated from Rice in 1948 with a B.A. in English. The Rice cheerleader illustrated the university’s yearbook and met Rice basketball star David A. Cook. Bettye and Dave married in Houston on August 27, 1948. While Dave finished his undergraduate degree at Rice and earned his Masters degree, Bettye worked as a medical illustrator and lab technician at Baylor Med. The couple moved to Lubbock in 1949, where Dave coached basketball for a decade and Bettye briefly taught, then became the art director for KCBD, the Lubbock NBC affiliate. In the mid-1950’s, she did everything manually, from setting type to drawing all the animated ads. Never short on self-confidence, Bettye wrote Walt Disney for instruction in simple animation, and received it back from him. She learned as she went and never, ever, said “I can’t do that”.
Bettye and Dave raised their family of three in Houston, Lubbock, and Midland. Bettye freelanced in commercial art and taught secondary English and science for a couple of decades before she and Dave retired to a lake house at Ransom Canyon, where she continued teaching science for a great many years before finally closing the door on a lifetime of nurturing students. Throughout her life, Bettye delighted friends and family with personalized cartoons celebrating special life moments. She took up painting again after retirement and was a longtime member of the West Texas Watercolor Society.
In her final years, she moved back to Midland to be near family. With all of her talents, Bettye was first and foremost a daughter, wife, and mother. She taught her children to appreciate the beauty of nature, and gave each of them the gift of always wanting to see what was around the next corner.
She is survived by children Lindy and Jim Severns of Fort Davis, Texas; Kathy and Fadi Nammour of Vancouver, Canada; Kelly and Carol Cook of Midland; grandchildren Jeff Nammour, Laurel Nammour, Daniel Nammour, Steven Nammour, Elizabeth Cook-Resch, David Cook, and great grandchildren Severine, Layanne, Aurelia, Kyra, Lyon, August, and Hayden. She also leaves a brilliant legacy of a multitude of former students and many wonderful artworks.
Private services will be held in Mart, Texas at a later date. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that you make donations online or through the mail to: Midland Children’s Rehabilitation Center www.midlandchildrens.org 802 Ventura Avenue Midland, Texas 79705
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