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Betty K. Stroud

June 4, 1929 — June 20, 2024

Penney Farms

Betty K. Stroud

Betty Jean (Kiefer) Stroud, 95, of Penney Farms, Florida, passed away Thursday, June 20, 2024, after a long and full life. 

Betty was born on June 4, 1929, in Huntington, Indiana, to parents Freeman Kiefer and Cleta (Barr) Kiefer. Huntington was a small town where as a child Betty walked to school, had a lot of freedom to explore, entertain herself and maybe get into a wee bit of trouble. In the summer, she would pack a lunch, get on her bike to meet with friends and be gone for the entire day, riding wherever they chose. As a teen, she would ride her bike to Big Blue, a water filled quarry, go to the quarter movies and spend many hours dancing to jukebox music at the “Swing Inn” located in the basement of the YMCA.

After graduating from Huntington High School, Betty worked for a telephone company as a switchboard operator. She would ask “Number please” then manually connect calls by plugging and unplugging cords on a switchboard. 

Betty attended college at William Woods College in Missouri until she had to return home to take care of an ailing mother. While at college she spent a good amount of her time on a sun deck just above her dorm room. So much so, that when she returned home with a nice tan, she drew the attention of A.E. Stroud. She then spent that summer working as head cashier in a department store, getting to know A.E and going to dances together to listen to big band music at nearby lake dance halls. 

Betty married A.E. on November 15, 1950. On that day they drove to nearby Ft. Wayne, had lunch at a drive-in, chose a church that looked “just right”, and cornered the resident minister into marrying them. They lived in Charleston, South Carolina for a short time, later in Cocoa Beach, Florida and finally settled in Jacksonville, Florida. Betty and A.E were married for 70 years until A.E’s death in 2021. 

A.E, with Betty’s support, established a diving business, Stroud Diving & Hydrography in Jacksonville in the mid-1950s. At the time Betty had two babies to take care of but when the phone rang, she would put the babies down and answer the phone in the garage. If their first customers knew, they never let on. Betty kept the books for the business until it was sold in January 1985. The business continued to use the name Stroud Diving for many years. A portion of the diving equipment was featured in an exhibit at the Jacksonville Museum of Science and History in the 1990s.

Betty and A.E. began taking flying lessons at the St. Augustine Airport that transitioned into aerobatic lessons. Over the years, they flew the Skybolt, an open cockpit biplane, the Super X, a mid-wing aerobatic airplane and a small tandem seat Citabria. In addition to learning aerobatics, Betty enjoyed making good landings. She won a landing competition at the St. Augustine Airport beating out the male competitors. Ballroom dancing was an additional pastime for Betty and A.E., especially swing dancing.

After their business was sold, A.E asked Betty, “what do we do now?”. Without really thinking about it she answered, “Go to Alaska”. They then drove to Alaska on their first trip and took multiple other trips both flying on commercial airlines or flying themselves in the Citabria. They always enjoyed the trips, taking different routes and seeing different parts of the country. They would camp, sometimes in very remote locations, fish and even mine for gold. 

Betty is survived by her sister, Sue Baker (husband Lee) of Penney Farms; two children, Cindi Stroud of Colorado and Shara Hightower (husband Bob) of Tallahassee, FL; four grandchildren, Tyler Stroud-Etherton of Jacksonville, FL, Hannah Masters of Colorado, Kristin Martin (husband John) of San Diego, CA, Matt Norville (wife Ali) of Tampa, FL; and four great-grandchildren, Mason Martin, Emmy Martin, June Martin and Cason Etherton.

A private celebration of life will be held at Penney Farms Cemetery. 

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Residents Aid Fund at Penney Farms Retirement Community, 3495 Hoffman St./P.O. Box 554, Penney Farms, FL 32079.

 

 

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