Catherine Elizabeth "Betty" Asay, 90, passed away peacefully on Oct. 3, 2020, at the New Horizons Care Center in Lovell. She was born at home on Dec. 3, 1929, in Lovell, the fourth child of John Hatch Asay and Evelyn Marie (O’Donnell) Asay. As was the case with all ten of her siblings and her first two children, the attending physician was ‘Doc’ William Horsley, a dedicated town physician and family friend.
Betty was part of the Class of 1948 at Lovell High School, where she was drum major with the band. During the late 40s, Betty’s parents built their family home south of Lovell, where they farmed and raised livestock. Betty loved working beside her dad in their family garden and carried that love of gardening into adulthood.
Growing up an ‘Asay’ in her hometown of Lovell meant that it was impossible to walk down Main Street without running into a relative – aunts, uncles, cousins, in-laws and, yes, a few out-laws. She dearly loved all of her family members but was especially close to Uncle Joe (Asay) whose sense of humor was contagious, and he always had a story to spin around the table and to her aunt Delsa (Rounds).
In 1932, her father, Jack, completed construction of a log cabin that sits above Porcupine Creek in the Big Horn Mountains. As a child, she and her siblings rode horseback up the mountains to the family cabin, camping overnight at Five Springs Campground. Jack always told her "to be sure that she tied her horse up with a firm knot or she’d be walking the rest of the way." Such experiences taught her important life lessons about personal responsibility, instilled personal confidence and gave her an appreciation of the outdoors. The memories created at the Asay cabin during her early years remained vibrant in her mind and heart, no matter where she lived.
Betty’s dad worked for 50 years for Great Western Sugar which meant being part of the local community that was often referred to as ‘sugar tramps.’ Her parents hosted the much-anticipated annual staff picnic at their family cabin on Porcupine Creek in the Big Horns where the sounds of clanging horseshoes, robust laughter and children playing could be heard for miles.
Betty married her high school sweetheart, Curtis Clen Wallace, who was also from Lovell. His work in the oil fields often took them to remote areas in Wyoming with limited resources and challenging living conditions. They eventually divorced. Their union was blessed with six children.
Betty then moved to Las Vegas and married Al Diekemper, formerly of St. Louis. Their union was also blessed with six children. She worked as a waitress in many of the Vegas hotels and was sometimes pleasantly surprised when old friends from Lovell would visit Vegas. Her love for her hometown roots never faded.
Betty was not one to shy away from challenges; she faced many in her life. When one of her 12 children was born with a potentially fatal heart defect, she was told not to expect that child to live past age 3. Refusing to accept that diagnosis, and finding no clear answers in traditional medicine, Betty began researching alternative solutions. She found hope and direction after intense studies about nutrition and alternative healthcare. Her daughter recovered. Eventually Betty opened a health food store in Las Vegas where she served scrumptious salads, hot soups, gourmet sandwiches and fresh juices. To her, it was more than just a business – it was a mission she felt passionate about. She had found her calling. She became a friend and encourager to many of her customers.
Betty longed to be near her family in Wyoming and was thrilled to return to her beloved home in 2001. Her move back to Lovell reunited her with family and renewed old acquaintances in the last years of her life. She became her Aunt Delsa’s ‘apprentice,’ helping place flowers on loved ones graves for Memorial Day remembrances at the Lovell Cemetery. But they always found time for fun, as well. If BYU was playing basketball, you’d find Betty and Aunt Delsa ‘hootn’n and hollr’n’, rooting for their favorite team.
It would be remiss not to mention the relationships Betty had with her beloved nieces and nephews – fifty-one of them. From the late 1940s to the early 1960s, when most of her siblings still lived in Lovell, the Asay farm and home was always the gathering place. A typical day would find the women cooking for a hungry farm crew, chasing kids, washing unending loads of laundry to hang on the outside clothes line – summer and winter. The term "it takes a village" could have been coined then because the entire family took part in teaching, disciplining and loving the younger children. It was the norm. The special bond between these women endured throughout their lifetimes, and for that, Betty was grateful. To each of her nephews and nieces, know that she loved you.
Betty was preceded in death by her parents, John Hatch Asay and Evelyn O’Donnell Asay; five brothers, Jack (Kay), Tom (Joyce), Jerry (Susan, Evelyn), Ronnie (Judy) and William Asay; three sisters, Margaret (Earl, Dick) Madsen, Evelyn (Harry) Stassinos and Rosemarie Asay; and sister-in-law Shirley (Ken) Asay of Riverton. Her first husband, Curtis C. Wallace, and her second husband, Al Diekemper, also preceded her in death.
Betty’s surviving siblings include Kenneth D. Asay of Pavillion and Carole Ann (Chuck) Meyer of Dubois; sister-in-law Chris Asay of New Bern, N.C.; and special family and friend Mary (Asay) Wiener of Cody.
Betty is also survived by her twelve children: Cathy (Zane) Gray of Casper, Sandra (Ken) Janzen of Colorado Springs, Chuck (Karen) Diekemper of Las Vegas, Michael “Dutch” Diekemper of Powell, Theresa (David) Burnett of Reno, Nev., Geoffrey (Carole Anne) Wallace of Slidell, La., Lydia (Mark) Killeen of Grand Rapids, Mich., Tony (Kellie) Diekemper of Saverna Park, Md., Anne Diekemper of Cody, Steve Diekemper of Casper, Mary (Alex) Walsh of West Falmouth, Maine, and Lisa Diekemper of Powell. Betty’s legacy also includes 32 grandchildren, 41 great-grandchildren and three great-great-grandchildren.
Graveside services are scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 10, at 11 a.m. at the Lovell Cemetery.
The family would like to express sincere thanks to the staff of New Horizons Care Center for their loving care and support of Betty during her last years. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to a New Horizons Care Center, 1115 Lane 12, Lovell, WY 82431.
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