Betty (Hollen) Silvey, 100, of Urbandale, Iowa passed away on Saturday, July 15th, 2023, at the John Knox Senior Living Center, located in Lee’s Summit. Betty was married for 56 years to Charlie Silvey, until his death in 1999. She outlived her daughter, Kaye Silvey, and is survived by two sons, Charles G. Silvey and Steven Silvey and five grandchildren, which include Kelly Silvey, Patrick Silvey, Nicole Silvey, Ryan Silvey and Jarett Silvey, and one great-grandchild, Rowan Silvey.
Betty was born as the middle child to Roy McKinley Hollen and Ursul Lucille Hollen at Mount Ayr, Iowa on December 6, 1922. She spent her first eighteen years of life with her parents, and then attended and graduated in 1942 from N. W. Missouri State Teachers’ College, now renamed Missouri State University.
While a student there, Betty met and eventually married Charlie Silvey. They were married on December 28, 1942. Their marriage lasted a lifetime until Charlie passed away in 1998. They were married for 56 years.
During the first six months of 1943, they kept their new marriage a secret. Only Betty’s parents were initially aware of their wedding vows. During those first months, Charlie went back to college at Cedar Falls, Iowa and Betty continued teaching school over by Grinnell, Iowa. When the 1943 spring semester was over at Cedar Falls, the happy couple announced their marriage to family and friends.
With America’s increasing involvement in World War II and less than six months into their marriage, Charlie suspended his education and entered the Navy in the fall of 1943. Betty moved back home temporarily and worked at Deans’ Studios tinting photographs, an artistic skill she had acquired in 1941. By this time their daughter, Kaye, was born. Betty was able to work from her parent’s home and care for their daughter.
The couple was reunited in 1944 but was temporarily separated once again when the Navy sent Charlie to Okinawa, an island near Japan. Finally, Charlie was released from the Navy about a year later and the family was reunited once again.
The next four years were financially challenging as the couple searched for work and as Charlie sought to establish his career as a teacher and coach. By 1946, the couple had moved to Napier, Iowa, a community near Ames, Iowa. Charlie taught history and coaching full-time. Betty also secured a job teaching English the first half of her day. The other half-day she coached the junior/senior play.
During the following summer of 1947, Charlie and Betty moved back to Cedar Falls, Iowa where Charlie graduated with his bachelor’s degree at Iowa State Teachers’ College. Betty recalled that they lived in a small, rented tin hut. Together they took a playground job managing the summer program at the community park. Kaye was a toddler by this time and went to work each day at the park with her mother Betty.
Betty would find herself packing and unpacking as the family made a number of moves across Iowa. They moved to Napier, Cedar Falls, and Prairie City, where their second child, Charles Gary, was born. Then they moved back to Calmar and finally to Des Moines, Iowa. At each move, Charlie picked up greater expertise in his chosen profession, high school track coaching. Betty picked up part time jobs to help supplement the family’s income.
Des Moines, Iowa was the family’s final destination. Charlie had secured a teaching and coaching job at Des Moines Technical High School. The job and hours away from home were demanding for Charlie but Betty handled the home life with grace. Charlie remained in this position for the next 32 years until his retirement in 1983.
Betty was actively involved with her family and community during the growing up years of their children. On February 20, 1957, their second son, Steven Scott Silvey, was born. Betty taught the children’s Bible study at church one summer, Girl Scout Brownies for two years while Kay attended. She sponsored the Cub Scouts in their basement and helped with the Parents Teachers’ Association. She served as room mother for her children and attended many adult education classes. Betty served as a substitute teacher in the Des Moines Catholic Schools to help supplement the family’s income.
Betty found herself a widow in 1998 when her husband of 56 years passed away at home. She remained in the family home for one more year and then moved to the Kansas City area where her son Charles Gary lives. Betty settled into her new home at John Knox Village, a retirement community in Lee’s Summit, MO.
Betty made a significant contribution to her husband’s position in the community and to his success as a leading high school track coach. Betty’s quiet and efficient management of the household and the family provided the domestic comfort that helped to promote Charlie’s advancement in public honor.
Despite the financial hardships of the early days, Betty energetically and resourcefully cared for her family. She spent many days and evenings alone while her husband labored to provide necessities for the family. She held down part-time and seasonal jobs to come alongside her husband. She quietly displayed the confidence to face the future with its unexpected challenges, especially during the time when the family contracted bulbar-polio.
Education for her children was an important priority. She consistently tutored her children in any academic area that needed help. She invested volunteer time in the schools and her community.
She quietly spoke words of wisdom and showed kindness in a myriad of ways. Her thoughtfulness remained evident as there was never a birthday of a family member, a grandchild or great-grandchild that Betty did not send a greeting card with her wishes for their prosperity into the next year. Both of her former daughters-in-laws, Diane and Paula, credit Betty with their cooking skills.
We give Betty tribute and honor. She exemplified many of the noble traits of the Proverbs 31 woman. “May her children stand and bless her . . . Reward her for all she has done. Let her deeds publicly declare her praise” (Proverbs 31:28,31).