Going Strong

My High School
Senior picture

2011 Reunion
Box 301
Ashland, KS 67831
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Married L. Neal Hill December 20, 1952 Children Lauri & Kurt) Currently Retired Loves peace and quite at second home in Ashland,KS and Family gatherings

Another picture pending
(Family perhaps later?)

Betty Eileen Gotchall -- SCHS/ Class of 1950
Written May 2, 2012

My birth occurred May 12, 1933 at Lebanon, NE, the second of four children born to Alferd Vernon and Edna Frankie (Mays) Gotchall. When I was eight years old, our family moved to Goodland, KS. At age 13, I developed polio which caused left arm paralysis, most of which was gradually overcome by physical therapy (until it re-paralyzed in the 1990s). Due to that illness, I missed the entire first semester of high school and attended only a class or two plus a correspondence course the second semester. I was determined to graduate with my peers so took maximum class loads the next three years and graduated with them in 1950. I didn't get to participate in many after-school activities because I worked as a waitress in Sprague's Diner, then later at Dew Drop Inn (by the skating rink), and then in Robertson's Drug Store. In 1950-52, I attended Southwestern College in Winfield, KS, earned a 60-hr. teaching certificate, and became the 5th & 6th grade teacher in Kanorado, KS.

I met Leland Neal Hill in the summer of 1951. During my sophomore year in college, we corresponded by letters, getting to know each other better. Neal was born April 16, 1927 near St. Francis, KS, and was the first of 12 children born to Merl Melvin and Stella Lourine (Todd) Hill. His youth was spent in that area where he enjoyed hunting and fishing. Journalism interests developed through his boyhood job at the local newspaper. In high school, his wrestling skills proved to be good competition for our SCHS Wrestlers (but I didn't know him then.) When 18, Neal enlisted in the Navy as a Seabee and was stationed in the Philippines during World War II. Discharged in 1946, he resumed work at the St. Francis Herald. We were married December 20, 1952, during my first year of teaching and established residence in Kanorado, KS, with Neal commuting to his job at the Goodland Daily News.

During my two years at Kanorado School, I took some correspondence and extension courses to continue working on a Bachelor of Science Degree. In the summer of 1954, both of us enrolled in Ft. Hays Kansas State College. I graduated the following May, gave birth to Kathi Lourine on August 28, and taught Hays' third graders during 1956-58 while Neal completed college requirements and shared parental/ homemaking tasks. Golf was added to Neal's interests.

After Neal's graduation in 1958, we moved to Goodland where he became the English and Journalism teacher at SCHS , and later, assistant wrestling coach; I taught 3rd graders at Grant Elementary School. In September, three-year-old Kathi contracted Meningitis which resulted in life-long medical problems. Her life ended in 1978 at age 22 3/4 when she drowned at Cedar Bluffs Dam during a Memorial Day Outing with friends.

My decision to devote full-time to motherhood was prompted by Lauri Kay's arrival New Year's Eve, 1962. Two years later, on December 28, Jerry Kurtis was born.

In August 1967, Neal, the kids, and I moved to Ashland, KS, where Neal was employed to teach English & Journalism, later coaching golf. Neal had begun graduate courses at Pittsburg State University in Pittsburg, KS, and finished requirements for a Master's Degree at Northwestern University in Alva, OK, in 1973. Neal retired from teaching in 1989 (age 62) due to ill health.

In Ashland, I did various part-time jobs including substitute & preschool teaching, baby-sitting, housecleaning , and school bus driving. I returned to full~time teaching in 1978, teaching first graders at Ashland Grade School. My Master's Degree was awarded at Emporia State University in Emporia, KS, in 1993. I taught Special Education classes in Kismet, KS (1990-91), and in Goodland, KS (1991-98). (We had moved back to Goodland in 1991 to spend our retirement years there; our home was at 1020 W. 13th St.)

Neal's death occurred at 7:45 a.m. on Christmas Day 2002. He was buried with full military honors, near Kathi, in the family plot in the St. Francis, KS, cemetery. After that, my retirement . plans changed and I decided in 2006 to move back to 405 W. 6th St. in Ashland, KS. where I still owned a home. I began traveling monthly to Wichita to attend Post Polio meetings and to visit my daughter, Lauri, and husband, Tracy. On my return trips home, I'd go through Conway Springs, KS, and visit my sister, Lorna, who was the Methodist minister there. (She ministered 13 years there, but retired almost two years ago and moved to Florida to be near her youngest son and family.)

In the past few years, Lorna and I have taken several cruises together--- to the Mediterranean (Italy, Greece, Paris, France); Hawaii, three times; England, Ireland, & Scotland; the Caribbean Islands 8: Mexico; and the northeastern U.S. coast & Quebec, Canada.

One Sunday in late Iuly 2007 at Lorna's church, I met Ira Duane Bonebright. (He is a retired Air Force Veteran who was raised on a South Dakota farm.) After church and Sunday school, we met at Gambino's where he bought my (and Lorna's) lunch--- and that' s how our courtship began. We corresponded frequently and met monthly. (As a note of interest, Duane had lost two wives to illnesses and Lorna had performed their funerals and counseled Duane during the bereavements.)

Duane and I were married Sunday February 10, 2008 by Pastor Loma in the Conway Springs Methodist Church after the Sunday service. Lauri and Kurt were our attendants. The church members made the cake and held the reception for us. We consider our permanent residence to be Ashland, but Duane owns a home in Conway Springs so we continue to travel back and forth between the two towns every month. We have had some exciting times traveling by van to Albuquerque, NM; northwestern Missouri; Nebraska; South Dakota; Ft. Walton Beach, FL; and Goodland; by air to Fresno, CA and Ft. Walton Beach and Ft. Lauderdale, FL; by bus with Senior Citizens to Texas; New Orleans, LA; the Rocky Mountains and Dollywood; and a cruise to the Carribean Islands. Our next bus trip is to NI, NY, and Philadelphia, PA. Life is good (except for our aches and pains! Ha ha—-not funny!)

My children, Lauri and Kurt, have each completed college degrees at Ft. Hays University. Lauri and her husband, Tracy Townsend, are both computer programmers and have worked for Halliburton Co. in Duncan, OK, and Boeing Aircraft Co. in Wichita, KS. Lauri has also worked at Raytheon Aircraft Co. and Tracy at HighTouch Co. in Wichita. Kurt's degree was in Communications; he took advanced courses in Technology at Colorado Tech in Colorado Springs, CO. During and after college, his jobs included the radio station in Hays; fish store clerk, office supplies delivery man, BRN (Business Radio Network) in Colorado Springs, CO; and is now a supervisor at ADM (Sunflower Plant) west of Goodland, KS. Kurt adopted 3 children: Amanda Eileen, Lauren Elizabeth, & Kurtis Lee.)

---contributed by Betty (Gotchall) Hill-Bonebright Betty Has shared a moving article for a UMW( United Methodist Women) program Regarding her personal experience with Meningitis.The Miracle (My Witness) click here