Betty Irline Gorham Kesselus
Betty was born on April 18, 1944, in Houston, Texas, to John Dean Gorham and Mildred Theresa Gantt Gorham. In 1948, Betty’s family moved to Austin as her father had been selected to organize the Texas Municipal Retirement System (TMRS). Dean subsequently served as its Director for 32 years. His grandmother was a Cherokee Indian adopted from those from the Trail of Tears in middle Tennessee. He, Betty, and her sister Deanna, were very proud of their Indian blood line.
Betty attended Pease and Brykerwood Elementaries, O’Henry Junior High, and she graduated from the Old Austin High School in 1962. Betty pursued post-secondary education at Stephen F. Austin State College in Nacogdoches, the University of Texas at Austin, and the University of Colorado at Boulder Colorado and along the way she met Richard Kesselus, a native Bastropian, in Nacogdoches and they fell in love. They married January 31, 1965, at First United Methodist Church, Austin, Texas.
Betty and Richard began their marriage in Beaumont Texas where Richard was a Patrolman with the Beaumont Police Department and Betty completed her Bachelor’s Degree at Lamar University, graduating with a B. S. in Secondary Education with a major in English and a minor in History. Betty began her teaching career at Vidor High School. She soon became a stay at home mom when she gave birth to her first child Richard Darren Kesselus on December 8, 1966, and a second child John Kent Kesselus came into the world on October 25, 1972, after the family had moved to San Marcos.
In 1974, the family moved to West University Place, Texas, where Richard accepted the job of Chief Of Police for the West University Place Police Department. Three years later the family moved back to Central Texas to Lockhart where Betty and Richard both accepted positions at Southwest Texas State University (SWTSU) in nearby San Marcos.
Betty developed, authored, and presented Safety Workshops for Elementary Teachers across the State. She continued her education completing a Master’s Degree in Interdiscplinary Studies at SWTSU (Texas State) which afforded her credentials as both a Guidance and Vocational Counselor. Her first counseling position was with the Lockhart ISD as Lockhart High School’s Guidance Counselor. Betty subsequently accepted a position as Elementary Counselor at Mina Elementary in the Bastrop Inpendent School District as the family transitioned to a return to Richard’s hometown of Bastrop.
At Mina, students affectionately called her “Mrs. Garfield” due to her Garfield the Cat themed office; she was tickled by her school nickname and answered to it when encountering former students. Later in her service to the Bastrop Independent School District, she helped with the development of Genesis Academic Alternative High School. It’s success was a point of great fullfillment and pride for her. She became its first Counselor continuing in the position until her retirement. She loved her work and her students.
In addition to her devotion as an educator, another important part of her life was singing in Church Choir – which she did for 50 years. Singing was so important that, on her wedding day, and to the surprise of First United Methodist Church Pastor Hampton, she showed up to sing at the regular morning service just hours prior to her wedding in the same venue.
Betty’s parents preceded her in death as did her niece Susan McKay Lockhart. She is survived by her sister Deanna Lee Gorham Wilson, husband Richard, sons Darren and Kent, one very smart and beautiful granddaughter Danyel Cole Kesselus, two wonderful grandsons Selvin Alfredo Kesselus, and Alexander Ernesto Kesselus, nieces Diane Cannon, Linda McKay, Elizabeth Crownover and Anna Freeto, nephews Mike Mckay and Scott McKay and a host of great and great-great nephews and nieces.
Betty passed from this world on Wednesday, September 21, 2022. Her funeral service will be held at 3:00 PM Sunday, October 16, 2022, at Calvary Episcopal Church in Bastrop. The service will include internment in the Church Columbarium. A celebration of her wonderful life will follow the service in the Church Parish Hall. In lieu of flower donations, memoriums can be made to Calvary Episcopal Church.
Our condolences to Richard and his family.