Lily Beth Appleton passed away peacefully in her sleep while under hospice care in her residence in San Jose, Calif., with her younger son at her side. She was 95 years old.
She was born in Goodland, Minn., second eldest of five children. Her parents Martin and Inge Hanson emigrated from Norway in their late teens. She grew up on their family farm near Sweetwater Lake in Devils Lake, N.D. From the earliest age she was interested in education, read extensively and dreamed of seeing the world. She was a tomboy, rode a pinto pony and claimed she could outride and outshoot any of the boys in town.
She worked her way through Minot State Teachers College earning a BA in Elementary Education and taught at Greybull, Wyo., then Spokane, Wash. In 1943 she entered into the Women's Army Corps in Seattle, Wash. She had been hoping to be sent to Europe but instead went to the Pacific Theatre and served in the Philippines, Australia, New Guinea, Korea and Japan. She developed a passion for Japanese culture that lasted her whole life. She attained the rank of Sergeant and was awarded the Asiatic Pacific Campaign Medal, American Defense Medal, World War II Victory Medal and Good Conduct Medal.
While stationed in Korea, she met Richard B. Appleton, a Captain in the US Army, married him and bore him two sons in Tokyo, Japan. Thereafter they both worked for the Department of Defense as civilians. Mr. Appleton worked his entire career as a contract lawyer for the US Army Corps of Engineers while Lily Beth taught for the Army Dependent Schools. This included three years in Athens, Greece and ten years in Livorno, Italy, so her dream of seeing Europe was finally fulfilled.
Upon their return to the USA in 1966, she taught 6th grade at Taylor Elementary School in Arlington, Va., until her retirement in 1982 at which time she and her husband retired to Lakewood, Devils Lake, N.D. In retirement she and her husband travelled extensively visiting India, Hong Kong, Japan, Australia and numerous other countries.
Upon the death of her husband who is buried in the Devils Lake City Cemetery, she relocated to San Jose, Calif., where she could be near her younger son and his family. She and her husband had an enormous collection of books, which she donated to the Lake Region Community College when she moved to San Jose.
Lily Beth never lost her love for humanity and most especially for children and also for understanding other cultures and languages. She was an inspiration to her many students, some of whom remained in touch with her until this day. She was very creative and loved to paint and write. She also enjoyed acting in Little Theatre, equestrianism and playing golf. In 2006 at the age of 89, she went on a trip back to Italy with her younger son Brian and grandson Luke where she was the only faculty member to attend a school reunion at Camp Darby where she had taught in the postwar years and was able to reconnect with 27 old friends and former students.
Page 2 of 2 - During her time in California, she was generous with her love and devotion to her grandchildren and will be sorely missed by all of them. She touched many people's lives with her humanity, generosity and constant love for learning. She was politically liberal and egalitarian, believed in democracy and had respect for the working man and people from all walks of life and ethnicities. She also had a deep love of nature.
Lily Beth always spoke of Devils Lake fondly whenever she was absent from it. She had a great love for her home town as well as for her Norwegian heritage. In fact the last words she spoke to her younger son were about traveling back to Norway.
Lily Beth is survived by her brother Walter Hanson of Devils Lake, her two sons, Richard H. Appleton and Brian H. Appleton and her grandsons, Alex, Luke and Zacharia as well as numerous nieces and nephews in Devils Lake.
Per her request, internment will take place at the City Cemetery of Devils Lake beside her husband at a later date.
Donations in her memory can be made to Angels On Stage (www.angelsonstage.org), a musical theatre troupe for special needs children dear to her heart, which provided her with many hours of enjoyment during her years in San Jose