You were the beloved daughter of Idris and Bill Wieland; the charming, beloved wife to Jack Wassom; the resolute mother to Julie (John) Melton, Nancy (Alan) Bernstein, and Colette (Jim) Scott; the ever-awed and amused grandmother to Lona (Scott) Kouri, Anjali and Elizabeth Melton, and Jacqueline Scott; and to countless loved ones near and far, the adored great-grandmother, aunt, second mother, dear friend, farming partner and grand dame. As a mother-in-law there can be no doubt you were always the favorite!
Your Lake View, Iowa, childhood with sisters, Marvel (Reising) and Claudine (Parenti) was storybook Lakewood Park perfect. Your love of fun and your achievements in physical activity and sports and your indomitable sense of adventure were your first pursuits after graduating third in your 1942 Lake View High School class. Being too beautiful for coed concentration as a freshman at Iowa State University, you set your sights on Chicago. In 1944, you packed up your indomitable spirit and joined Audrey, Ardy, Dar, and Claud for WWII “homefront” endeavors, took the civil service exams and worked for the Treasury Department in the Merchandise Mart. Legend has it that the Wieland Girls and friends appeared on various dance floors, swinging to the big band era from the windy city Trianon and Amazon to Lakewood Swing-Lan Ballrooms.
You caught the eye of returning war hero, Captain John Julian Wassom and married him on November 20, 1947, at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Wall Lake, Iowa, and a love story bloomed and was planted on the Foster and Anne Wassom century family farm in Sac City, Iowa. Fearless in the face of an unknown role, you gave your signature style to creatively interpreting being a fabulous farm wife. Endless love ensued. There you lived happily-ever-after for over 40 married years.
While raising your family of farm girls you nurtured each new friend you made in your community with a kind warmth and witty intellect, leaving them stunned by your constant sense of fun. You were the mother who made and enforced the maddening rules and impossible standards and gave the character choices to win your daughters’ lifelong respect for your insistence on strong moral ethics. You were the “local" daughter who gave stalwart devotion to your own parents as well as your in-laws when their lives required healthcare and annual memorials.
As avocations, golf, sailing, swimming, water skiing, racquet ball and constant bridge vied with the Olympic sport of baking untold pies and angel food cakes and the art of entertaining. You were a selfless and joyful homemaker. You had the back of your daughters' ballet, piano, and riding lessons, homework and college scholarships. You were the stage manager for countless 4-H projects from Champion County and State Fair hogs and club calves, to Aksarben and Denver Livestock Show steer championships. You were the quintessential cat and kitten whisperer.
European travel allowed you to step back in time with that photo reconnaissance P-38 pilot who won your heart and gave your life a worldly perspective. However, winter trips to Colorado, Texas, and California were your lifelong favorites for family ties and ..more golf.
You effortlessly beamed those qualities you prized most in others: modesty, strength, independence and acceptance. You showed great tolerance toward the rest of us, careful to never hurt with a searingly honest opinion, endless positive attitude, and exquisite example to always expect the best in everyone, especially if they did not deserve it.
Your Catholic faith was your ever present rudder. When God did not bless you with sons to follow in the footsteps of your husband’s legacy of farming, you embraced Wally Von Ahn, the man God brought into your lives as the best farmer and surrogate son imaginable. You took so much of life on pure pragmatic faith, vowing to act according to a code of conduct that today, as you leave this world, is a lost art of living with inclusion, compassion, dignity and class.
Through your generosity of both time and funds, you were devoted to a long life of civic service and a constant contribution to your Sac City community. You admired and respected your life’s gifted spiritual leaders from Bishop Daily who married you and Jack to Monsignor Tolan, Father Lynch and, as you often remarked, “the very special holy man”, Father Lawrence McCarty. As a member of St. Mary’s Catholic Parish and St. Mary’s Ladies Guild, you enjoyed communion with God, his servants, and your congregation; as a member of the Sac Community School Board, you fought for higher educational standards for every student; as a Sac City Country Club Board member (and once upon a time Ladies Golf Champion) you invested in preserving the unique beauty of a local sporting treasure. As an enthusiastic decade-long volunteer at Sac City Kid’s World, you often remarked that it was in those kitchens and from those very kids and your colleagues that you received the most valuable education possible by being open to how our best life lessons come from the most unexpected "teachers". Your love of fashion was enthusiastically expressed, your mind remained sharp and your keen wit delightfully engaged through countless high stakes competitive games of bridge and Red Hat Society excursions.
You were the darling of every health care professional whose path you ever crossed. You trail-blazed a new interpretation of independent/assisted living with confidence and inimitable grit, grateful for the care and comfort you received, and the personalized attention of the compassionate staff of Sac City UnityPoint, Loring Hospital, and Park Place where you resided as a second home since November, 2016. You opened your farm home of 70 years to the angels of Home Choices and Hospice who tenderly lifted you up for a peaceful, joyful end of your life.
You were an intrepid young widow, living courageously and independently nearly 30 years after your husband, Jack, died at 67 in 1990. You had lifelong pride in your Black Hawk Lake roots and from those humble family values you developed a lightheartedness, good humor, and a natural sense of always living life to its fullest that carried you through a long and happy life.
Dear Bette, we will always appreciate your strength, your positive approach to life, your spirited sense of fun, and your fashionable fortitude. We hope to be influenced in our own lives by the big and little things you always and often anonymously did for others. You will be missed.
To Bette’s friends and family, we wish to express our gratitude for your many kind prayers, thoughts, and deeds. Bette requested a very private family funeral and burial upon her death. Bette’s family invite you to a memorial funeral service on Saturday, December 1, at St Mary’s Catholic Church in Sac City at 10:30 a.m. Immediately following her service a Lidderdale Country Store catered luncheon will be held at Sac Country Club where Bette and Jack spent many happy hours during their lifetimes. At Bette’s amused request, her sons-in-law and grandson-in-law will be sponsoring an open bar at her luncheon celebration of life. An informal pie and coffee open house gathering in her honor will follow at the family farm of Jack and Bette Wassom at 2720 Union Avenue, Sac City, Iowa.
We cherish her many friendships and acquaintances and we thank you for remembering Bette. Should you wish to honor Bette's life, in lieu of flowers, please make donations to The Sac City Public Library (saccity.lib.ia.us) Lake View Public Libraries (lakeview.lib.ia.us), the Sac County Conservation Foundation /Hagge Park (saccounty.org) or the Black Hawk Lake Protective Association(blackhawklake.org).