After spending time with her husband, her son, his wife, and her two beloved grandchildren, Betty Jo Chesnutt Stone passed peacefully from this life late on the evening of January 9, 2021 at Baptist Medical Center-South in Jacksonville, Florida. She had been admitted to Hospice care on Friday. This meant that the whole family could spend time with her in her final hours. Betty loved her family, and she will be missed by everyone.
Betty Jo was born on November 12, 1927 in what is now known as Collegedale, Tennessee. Her parents, Joseph Edgar Chesnutt and Maude Ellenor Coffee Chesnutt, had a farm in the area that is now part of the McKee Bakery complex. As the youngest, and last, of eight children, she learned early in life to set a goal and work to achieve it. After graduating from Ooltewah High School, Class of 1945, and with the support and encouragement of her sisters, she entered Berry College in Rome, Georgia. Originally, her goal was to be a dietitian. However, a good friend encouraged her to look into the emerging field of medical technology. She started taking classes in that area. With her aptitude for science, her attention to detail, and her desire to be in a medical field, she found a vocation that became her lifetime work. After taking classes at Berry and at the University of Chattanooga, and while working full time, she became a Certified Medical Technologist. She worked at Baroness Erlanger Hospital in Chattanooga for over 20 years, where she found her passion for the profession. While she would continue to work as a medical technologist after she moved to Florida, her time at Erlanger always meant the most to her professionally. One of the highlights of her career was working, in the early 60’s, with some of the first Cuban immigrants who came to the United States to escape the oppression of a communist government. Over 20 years later, in Jacksonville, Florida, her daughter-in-law would meet a hospital pharmacist, Theresa Palomino, RPh. “Terry’s” first job in the United States was in the lab at Erlanger. She remembered Betty as a kind and generous woman, who helped welcome her and her family to freedom and a better way of life.
Betty married Richard Jackson (Jack) Stone, Sr. on January 3, 1953 at Apison Baptist Church in Apison, Tennessee. While they met in high school, it was after Betty finished college, that Jack captured her heart. Their love sustained them for 68 years. When Jack took a transfer with General Motors to Orlando, Florida in 1973, reluctantly, Betty left her family and friends behind. They moved to a small Central Florida town of orange groves and a single theme park that had just opened called “Walt Disney World”. In the years that they lived there, first in Winter Park, and after 1981, in Oviedo, Betty and Jack watched their small town become a major destination for many people. Her sports passion for Tennessee football (they had season tickets for 10 years!) changed to ones more suited for Florida—she came to love golf and boating. She often joined Jack as he marshaled at various golf tournaments in the Orlando area. On one occasion, a spectator, Mickey Mouse, decided to borrow her big orange hat that she was wearing to shield her from the Florida sun! He wore it the rest of the day! She and Jack bought a Carver cabin cruiser and enjoyed many trips on the waterways of central Florida with the Orange (County) Boating Club. Jack’s job with GM offered them some wonderful travel opportunities. After they retired, they bought a motor home and took two memorable trips—one to Alaska and one to Nova Scotia. They discovered the fun of genealogy in retirement. For over 10 years, they took many trips to places to do research on their respective families. She and Jack filled many binders with information about both sides of their families which will be a lasting legacy for everyone.
Betty is survived by her husband of 68 years. In addition, she is survived by her son, Richard Jackson Stone, Jr (Nancy Sue/”Suzi”). She is survived by two grandchildren: William Jackson Bailey Stone (Megan Wiggans) and Katherine Bailey Stone (Harry Tamoney-Fiance’). She also leaves many nieces, nephews, and cousins.
A graveside service will be held later this spring at the Ooltewah Cemetery.