Betty Buonasera 1928-2019
Betty Jean (Moffett) Buonasera passed away peacefully in Houston, Texas, on Feb. 25, 2019. She was 90 years old. Betty was an extraordinary person, loving mother (and grandmother) and one-of-a-kind friend. She was beloved by all and those that knew her were better off for it.
Betty was born Oct. 3, 1928 in Allen to Thomas Moffett and Mary (Newby) Moffett. Betty grew up in rural Kansas along with her three sisters and spent a lot of time with her father. She learned how to drive the tractor, change a flat tire and maintain an auto engine. This would serve her well later in life when she had three boys to raise. Education was a high priority in the Moffett family, and all four girls attended and graduated from college.
Religion was also a high priority. Both Tom and Mary Moffett taught Sunday school at the local Presbyterian Church and they strongly encouraged their daughters to be involved in the church. Betty was the one that rebelled. Nobody was going to tell Betty what to do or what to believe. She saw a lot of hypocrisy in organized religion and chose not to conform to what she thought wasn’t genuine, which is ironic because she lived a completely “Christian-like” life.
Betty was kind and non-judgmental. She lived by the golden rule and always treated other people the way she wanted to be treated. Betty was completely without prejudice. She saw all people as equal and influenced others to think the same way. Betty had a brilliant mind and was always the smartest person in the room — but you would never know it. Betty was very humble. She never spoke poorly of anyone.
Betty grew up listening to radio broadcasts of St Louis Cardinal games with her father and developed a love for baseball. In high school she became a very competitive and accomplished athlete. Following her graduation from Washburn University in Topeka, Betty moved to Denver to do graduate work at Denver University.
That is where she met Leo Buonasera. After completion of their graduate degrees, both Betty and Leo went to work for Shell Oil Company and married in 1956. Shell had a policy that a married couple could not both be employed, so Betty gave up her career to be a housewife, albeit an unconventional one.
She was not interested in traditional domestic homemaking, but she was a great boys’ mom. She played sports in the backyard, helped with homework and made sure the family ate healthy food. One thing she didn’t do was tell people what to do. She allowed people to succeed or fail and would give advice only if it was asked for.
But Betty and Leo were not a good marital match. Betty was a rebel who wasn’t going to be told what to do. Leo was Italian and grew up in a family where his dad ruled with an iron fist. In spite of their differences, they managed to stay married for 20 years and raise three sons before they divorced in 1978. After their divorce, they remained friendly and caring toward one another for the balance of their lives.
Betty loved competition and would play baseball and basketball with her sons and, later in life, also with her grandsons. In doing so she passed on the passion for athletic competition to the next two generations of her family. This resulted in two sons and two grandsons becoming college athletes.
Betty spent a lot of time on the tennis court, where she developed many friendships and turned herself into a formidable player. She played regularly into her 70s and was nationally ranked as the 26th best doubles player in America.
Betty was preceded in death by her parents; her sisters, Juanita Roese of San Luis Obispo, Calif., and Donna James of Topeka; and her niece Kymberly Scruggs of San Luis Obispo, Calif.
She is survived by her sister, Nadine Anderson of Topeka; her three sons, Alan Buonasera of Richardson, Texas, Russell Buonasera of Missouri City, Texas and Howard (Teri) Buonasera of Charleston, S.C.; her grandsons, Austin Buonasera of Norman, Okla., Cole Buonasera of Dallas, Texas and Alec Buonasera of Plano, Texas; her nieces and nephews, Merilu (Skip) Boyd of Overland Park, Tom (Liz) Scruggs of San Luis Obispo, Calif., Marc (Pam) Anderson of Topeka, Lisa (Jim) Finchem of Topeka and Vonnie (Jack) Woodruff of Longmont, Colo.
Dementia is a cruel disease, and over the past few years, the family watched helplessly as it robbed Betty of her most precious quality — her brilliant mind. It also presented some difficult challenges for our family to deal with. In that regard there are some people that deserve special mention.
Howard (and his wife Teri) shouldered the financial burden and developed a road map for the family to follow. Russell was a constant companion and took care of countless day to day necessities. Lennie Woodford and Ann Gonzales have been true and wonderful friends, regularly visiting Betty in spite of the fact that it was a logistical challenge for both of them.
A memorial service will be held in the Kingwood area in the near future.