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Betty Getzwiller

Date of Death: March 2, 2015

Date of Birth: August 11, 1922


TOPSHAM - Betty Getzwiller's long journey is over. She passed away March 2nd, 2015 in Topsham, Maine at the age of 92.

She was born Betty Lou Willis on August 11, 1922 in Marion, Ohio, the youngest child of Karl J. and Minnie Marie (Preuninger) Willis. She was just a baby when her family moved westward, eventually to Phoenix, Arizona. For Betty, her heart and home would always remain in the West.

After attending North Phoenix High School, Betty moved to San Diego, California. She first developed an interest in cars as a way to talk with boys, but soon was more interested in the cars. She was very proud of her red convertible, which could be heard rumbling a block away thanks to twin chrome pipes.

Horses were her other passion, and she showed horses competitively in Southern California. She also worked on "dude ranches", where movie stars were guided on trail rides by the petite, pretty blonde.

During the war, Betty's other skills as a bank bookkeeper elevated her to the teller windows, a first, since until then, only men were tellers. Betty made a nearly 40-year career primarily in banks, except in the early 50's when she took a bookkeeping job in Japan on a military base. She often said she went because she was single, wanted adventure, and thought "Why not??"

After returning to San Diego she met James B. Getzwiller, and "Jimmy" became the love of her life. He was a bit of a tumbleweed himself, and the couple moved to Las Vegas, Nevada and then Tucson and Phoenix, Arizona. They raised their daughter, Susan Lee, in many different places while making each one a closely-knit home.

Jimmy always remained optimistic, despite living with multiple sclerosis for decades. Betty left banking in 1979 to care for him, and they never lost their devotion and love for each other. When he died in 1996, part of her died with him, and her family is taking comfort that they're finally together.

In 1999 she moved to The Highlands in Topsham, Maine to be near her daughter. That's where Betty's life-long passion for cars and racing blossomed into a love of NASCAR. She could tell you which cars raced better on which tracks, who the crew chiefs were and more. Betty's favorites were Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson, and a cherished possession is an autographed picture of Johnson she received on her 90th birthday.

She loved country music, especially Tim McGraw and George Strait, and anything connected with the West. So, her wishes include no service, with her ashes scattered off the coast of La Jolla, California, as were her husband's. (She made it very clear to her daughter to make it the Pacific, not the Atlantic.)

Betty Getzwiller is pre-deceased by her parents, sister Mary Jane (Leech), brothers Charles and Karl Joseph Willis, and nephew Lloyd Lee Leech. She's deeply missed by her daughter Susan and son-in-law Ron Sorg of Topsham, her very close nephew Joe Willis of El Cajon, California, his wife Susan and their daughter and son-in-law Stephanie and Dan Murphy. She was "Grandma Betty" to Jim Sorg (girlfriend Amanda and her son) in Norfolk, Virginia, Heather Sorg-Lupardus and her children in Midland, Texas, and Scott and Joann Sorg and their children in San Diego. She also leaves behind a niece and two other nephews in Arizona.

Her family wishes to thank the staff of The Highlands for their care and service the past 16 years, especially those in Cadigan Lodge, and most especially to Nurse Betty Chesley, along with Tracy, Laughlyn and Amanda, and housekeepers Pauline and Angie. Anyone wishing to make a donation can do so to The Highlands Resident Assistance Fund, c/o The Highlands, 30 Governors Way, Topsham, Maine 04086.

Condolences may be expressed to the family at

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