Betty Nease

March 9, 2009

By Contributor

Betty Nease

Betty Nease

Betty Nease, of Issaquah, died in Issaquah on Thursday, March 6, 2009. She was 82 years old.Betty was born in 1926 in Springfield, Mo., a beautiful part of the Ozark Mountains. Her father was the head of the business school at the local college. Betty grew up in an atmosphere of college faculty and academics, a high achiever, receiving her Bachelor of Arts in art education, and Phi Beta Kappa. During the dark days of World War II, she found the rascally charm of a local submariner named Roland Nease an irresistible contrast, and they were married just after the war.

They began their family with one boy (Pat) in the rough post-war conditions at Los Alamos, and then moved on to Texas, where they added a daughter (Linda) and two more sons (Mike and Gary). Soon, Roland’s work brought them back to the Ozarks, where the children grew up in Neosho, Mo. Once all the children were past the high-maintenance stage, Betty created a successful ceramics studio where she indulged her passion for teaching art. Soon, she returned to teaching art in the Neosho school system.

A new job for Roland brought them out to Seattle in 1969, and she was able to do post-grad work in England and at the University of Washington, completing her Master’s of Art in art education. She helped to design and build the unique seafront octagon house on Case Inlet, which they cherished for the next 25 years, where she continued painting, sculpting and drawing. 

Always her love for children and for teaching art brought her back to the classroom, and she taught for many years at Wilberton Elementary School and other Eastside schools. Roland’s position at the Port of Tacoma made it possible for them to travel to many seaport cities around the world, where they made lifelong friends, and she delighted in learning the art cultures and prowling the museums. Her children back home often received excited reports of these travels. Always, while they waited for train or airport connections, she sketched her fellow passengers and their children.

After Roland’s death, she moved to the Providence Point retirement community in Issaquah, where she found many friendships and, of course, plunged back into both teaching and learning. She loved taking geology and philosophy classes, but mostly she loved teaching adults that they can enjoy drawing. 

Every year for six years, she taught a class called “You Can Draw!” based on her deep conviction that Americans typically feel they can’t draw because they were taught in a way that makes it seem hard. She perfected a way combining left-brain techniques with the use of negative space, and the result was often astonishing. After her first class, word got around, and from then on, each time she taught, the classes were overflowing. At home, she painted, often entering paintings into the art shows at Providence Point.

On the day she died, she was working on a new painting, and enjoying a stack of letters from former students thanking her for bringing the joy of drawing into their lives.

Survivors include daughter Linda, of Camarillo Calif.; sons Pat, Mike and Gary, of the Seattle area; plus a brother in Missouri; four grandsons (one of whom is the local hydrofoil pilot Kip Brown); a granddaughter; and a great-granddaughter.

Friends and former students are invited to share memories and sign the family’s online guest book and view service information at

Arrangements are by Flintoft’s Funeral Home and Crematory — 392-6444.

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