The fascinating journey of Jerry and Barbara Betournay began years ago in our neighboring state of Idaho. Jerry Betournay was born in Boise, Idaho. He later moved to Billings, Montana and then on to Salt Lake City to finish out high school. He always looked back with fondness on time spent on his uncle’s farm and the sweet fresh air which would eventually lead him and Barbara to Morgan. Barbara was born in Northern Minnesota. When she was 5 years old her family moved to Mesa, Arizona. It was there she met Jerry one Thanksgiving day. Jerry was in the service and had come home to celebrate Thanksgiving.
They both met when they ended up at the same friends’ house for dinner. One day while stationed in Tucson, Arizona, Jerry called Barbara and asked her out on a date to watch a movie. Knowing the distance between Tucson and Mesa, Barbara was in for a shock when Jerry showed up at her house minutes later. There stood Barbara in her curlers not knowing Jerry had called from around the corner.
Although he wasn’t yet a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, Jerry proposed to Barbara right in front of the Salt Lake Temple. They were married in 1970 and with a desire of bringing their kids up in the country moved to Morgan County in 1972. They have lived here ever since. They feel blessed to have all five of their kids—Christine, Bryan, Carolee, Matthew and Michael—along with their grandkids (of which there will be 17 in June) within 90 miles of Morgan. Even better, they live smack dab in the middle of them all.
Through the years Barbara has had many hobbies. She enjoys quilting or pretty much “anything with a needle and thread”. Barbara is also interested in ceramics and reading. Jerry loves the outdoors and has in the past, enjoyed snowmobiling. Jerry is also a member of the Sons of Pioneers and helps with publicity.
Reminiscing of the past, Barbara and Jerry share a special fondness of the older generation. Many wonderful neighbors and friends had an early impact on the Betournay family. The people of Morgan were so welcoming that even on their first Sunday in town Hugh Barnes met Jerry on the front porch and welcomed him to town. With a chuckle he said his name would be easy to remember as every farmer had one. As their children were younger they would often go over to the Helen Anderson home or “Grandma Andy” as they lovingly referred to her. There she would pull out ingredients and whip up a fresh apple pie. Spike Mecham was loved for being able “to tell 100 stories and never have one be the same.”
The Betournays loved the feeling that they “raised their children in Camelot”, and they loved that kids could be out of the city, exploring in the hills and creating their own adventures. Doris Noyes taught Barbara a very important lesson in life: not to worry about the holes in the carpet—that kids will only remember the things you do with them. Many,many others were great friends such as Eva Jensen, and Meryl Smith. “They were a fantastic generation” Barbara states as she shares her love and respect. The Betournays were amazed by the care and attention from not only the neighbors but also from the school. As one of their children who had previously been top of his class started to struggle, it was former Morgan Elementary school principle Paul Warner that caught a hearing problem.
While they were young parents, they made their home in Peterson, but after their kids were raised and had left the house they decided to move into Morgan City. It would be the perfect place for them as they left on a mission. Serving in Johannesburg, South Africa from September 2008 to March 2010 they were able to not only proselytize but also help the local teachers in their classes. The school they helped in had over 900 students with only 16 classrooms. That meant huge class sizes with over 50-100 kids in each class. The Kindergarten alone had over 100 students. In such a poor area, these students had no desks and would sit on the floor with only 2 chalkboards and 2 light bulbs for the whole classroom. Many students only had one meal a day, a noon meal of corn mush and beans.
Because school was not required, the children were there because they wanted to learn and the Betournays were able to touch many lives. Often the children they served would have AIDS and their skin would be hot with fever. Each year, the school would lose at least a student or more. Many kids lived on the street with their young single mothers, whose days would consist of sitting in the median of the road begging for food. This broke their hearts but they found that throughout their suffering the poor people of South Africa were very humble and teachable.
This wonderful opportunity opened their eyes and since they have been home they notice more of the suffering locally as they are tuned into the needs of the people here in Utah. They try to continuously be of service to others and give back as they are truly grateful for what they have been blessed with.
Currently the Betournays are missionaries at the Heber Valley Camp which encompasses about 10,000 acres and has about 60,000 visitors a year. Always willing to give back, they are loving this new opportunity. They report that it is a “temple without a roof”.
Filled with appreciation for the many wonderful citizens of Morgan County, the Betournays are grateful to be able to live among them in this beautiful valley. In the words of Barbara “Morgan County is definitely our home”.