Tributes to Betty Anne McCaskill
Everywhere I travel in Missouri people want to know "how's your mom?" She has never met a stranger, and attacks life with a gusto that has from time to time just worn me out. She has taught me, lifted me, pushed me, pulled me and simply held my hand through many ups and downs. She is the wisest person I have ever known. I will say it again, there are moments when I can't believe how lucky I have been. Then I realize it isn't luck, it's my mother.
— Claire McCaskill, Mother's Day 2012
A memorial service will be held to celebrate her life on Sunday, November 4 at 3 p.m. at the Sheldon Concert Hall, 3648 Washington Boulevard, Saint Louis, MO 63108.
In lieu of flowers the family suggests a contribution to the Betty Anne McCaskill Scholarship Fund, 109 Reynolds Alumni Center, University of Missouri, Columbia, MO 65211.
TRIBUTES TO BETTY ANNE
Thomas Shrout — St. Louis
I remember when Betty Anne was elected to the Columbia City Council. It created quite a stir in Columbia -- a woman on the council??? She was no wall flower, but a voice for everyone in that community. A great lady who has wonderful children.
Linda Daily — Kansas City
Claire, I knew your mom before I met you. I was only in my 20's, and I remember thinking it was cool when your mom introduced you around and helped you so much with your career. I hope I have been as supportive of my daughters as Betty was to you. So sorry for your loss. Love to you!
Carol Rothwell — Lee's Summit
There are two women who strongly influenced me to care about equality, and Betty Anne was the first. I worked for Bill during college, and Betty Anne gave a bridal shower in my honor as well as occasionally hiring me to babysit the kids. We always kept in touch, and I will miss her.
Rachel Greene — Webb City
Thoughts and prayers to you and your family. I worked for Claire in 2004 on her Governor's race. I spent quite a bit of time with Betty Anne. She was truly one of kind. I will never forget taking Betty Anne with me to a Mizzou Alumni event at Grant's Farm in St. Louis. She talked to everyone at the event about voting for her daughter and her love of Mizzou. We were in the beer tasting room at Grant's Farm and the girl behind the counter asked her if she would like a drink. Betty Anne said "I will take a Bud Light and vote for my daugher Claire". She was the most popular lady at the event that night.
Becky Horman — Warson Woods
I was so honored when Betty Anne came to my St. Louis house before Claire's election to the Senate. She stood in my living room and told dozens of guests what a great Senator her daughter would make (she was right, of course). She sounded all the world like another famous Missourian -- Harry Truman. I will never forget her, or that day.
Gary Belis — New York, NY
The University of Missouri School of Journalism believes in a "learn by doing" approach to higher education, and students get hands-on experience by working at the MU-owned Columbia Missourian newspaper and the KOMU television station. Back in the early 1970s, as a young journalism student, I was assigned to the City Council beat for the Missourian. I learned very quickly that if I wanted to get a good quote for my stories that I should head straight for Councilwoman Betty McCaskill.
Betty was simply a blast, a force of nature, and a journalist's dream. She brooked no quarter when she wanted an answer from a city official, and she didn't hold back when a reporter's pad was at the ready. She was direct, honest, 100% genuine. I absolutely adored her.
I moved to New York City right after graduating from Mizzou, and have been here ever since. When I watch Claire on C-Span these days, taking on some slippery government bureaucrat, I am transported back to the Columbia City Council chambers and think of Betty. The apple didn't fall far from the tree.
My sincerest condolences to Claire and her siblings, Betty's grandchildren, and all her friends and family. She was one of a kind.
Bobbie Lurie — Springfield
She was a great woman and I am proud to be able to say she was my friend. You don't often have close friends for almost 30 years. She was very funny, inventive and always found the humorous side of any situation. I remember a time, a long time ago, when we had to hide behind a curtain on the stage at the State Democratic Convention because we wanted to be on the floor but did not have passes. I will miss her very much.
Frank Floyd — Mesa, AZ
Sorry to hear of Betty's passing. Bill was my roommate at the KA house and think Betty fixed up a blind date. Attended her wedding and really thought the world of her. Last saw her in Kansas City at a small get together when we passed through. The world will miss leaders like her.
DeAnne Brown — Maryland Heights
My memory is a brief one. While waiting for a show to begin at the Fox Theatre a few years ago, my husband and I became aware of the conversation in the seats directly behind us. They kept mentioning Washington DC and Claire. At intermission, we stood and turned around and saw a woman who looked pretty much like Claire. I asked if she might be related to her and she said she was her mother. We proceeded to chat, and I mentioned all the lies and distortions going on in politics and said I thought Claire seemed honest. Her mom replied, "Well, she'd BETTER be! I raised her to be that way." I tell others about that incident now. Betty Anne was a very nice lady.
Davitta Hanson — Kansas City
What a blessing to have had Betty Anne in our lives...she touched my life in more than one way...she was a listening ear, a smile maker, a fighter when needed, a hug and love when needed and always ready to encourage...she made me laugh out loud sooooo many times... I miss you Betty Anne...Claire, Anne and the rest of the family...my prayers and thoughts are truly with you...it's been to long since I've seen you guys...love and peace to you.
Such a wondeful spirit! I remember out of all her meetings with presidents she went on about her meeting with hunky George Clooney! She will be sorely missed at family gatherings. My thoughts are with Claire, Uncle Joe and family. Love u all!
Mark Waner — Washington, DC
BA is a grand old dame in the truest Sinatra sense. I was proud to know her.
Lorene Graham Brill — Springfield
I grew up in Houston, MO and worked for a short time for Bill at the mill. My sister, Gene, worked for Betty and babysat with her girls. One time I babysat in her place and I remember you, Claire, as a tiny baby. Betty and Bill were always special to us. We have been so proud of you, Claire. I am very sorry for your loss.
Rosemary Smithson — Santa Fe, NM
Enjoyed the tributes! They triggered memories of two road trips from K.C. to Jeff City packed in a car discussing EVERYTHING - including Claire, of course - heading to rallies for the Equal Rights Amendment. Betty was smart. She was pretty. She could fit in with any group. Clearly, she was special
Kay Callison — Columbia
Oh Lordy, Claire — Do you remember the MU Homecoming Parade in 2006? She rode with me on the Boone County Democrats float, admonishing you to come to your senses and get up on the float with us because of your bad knee, soon to be replaced. You said, "Yes, Mother," and kept right on walking! She called out to the crowd over and again, "Vote for my daughter!" When some wise acre on the curb in front of the Memorial Union shouted "Why?" she shot back, In her best sit-up-straight-and-eat-your-peas voice, "Because I said so!" I really liked your mom, and as a young grad student, admired her so much for running for and winning her City Council race — the first woman to serve. She was a role model for all of us!
Ty Kasmann — Jefferson City
I knew Betty while she lived in Springfield and ran for the State Legislature. She was a woman of perspective and grit and grace.
Mary Jane Volk — Washington, DC
Senator McCaskill, all of us at EMILY's List are keeping you in our thoughts and prayers at this difficult time. We know how special your Mom was. She gave you your fighting spirit. We know you must and will fight on.
Hannah Mellman — Washington, DC
I worked in Senator McCaskill's office from 2006-2008. When I had just started, Betty Anne was visiting and we went to watch Claire at a hearing together. I don't remember the specifics of the hearing, but one of the witnesses was avoiding Claire's questions. The Senator became assertive and gave a very rousing talk about why it was an important issue and needed more government attention. I looked over at Betty Anne who had tears in her eyes. She whispered to herself "thats my girl". She was so proud and I was so touched.
Gib Adkins — Lebanon
I was lucky enough to know Betty Ann and the McCaskill family for over thirty years. She always was so supportive and encouraging to me, and never failed to ask about her beloved Lebanon and Laclede County where I am from! Spent several evenings at their home in Springfield as a poor college and was treated to good food, but better conversations and life lessons i use to this very day. I love her...and she will be missed!
Carol Wright — Saint Charles
Growing up in Lebanon, Missouri, where Democrats were far and few between, both of our mothers carried that torch! I remember that my mom was sad when you all moved from Lebanon because she had lost an ally. Thank you Claire, for carrying on her legacy. We will all miss that spunky lady!
Terri Odom — Imperial
I had the honor and pleasure of setting down and talking with Senator McCaskill's Mother for a few hours at a fundraiser. What an inspiration she was! She spoke so loving and kind of her late husband who had also served in our military. Myself being a veteran that was profound! And she thought Claire walked on water!:) Of course, don't we all. So humbled and blessed to have met her. Sorry from my heart Senator mcCaskill for your loss.. :(
Courtney Cole — Excelsior Springs
I remember the first year I ever went to Jefferson Jackson Days and started talking to a nice older woman sitting in a chair in the lobby. She was so very sweet, and something was so familiar about her. As I walked away I commented to my friend how nice she was, and they said, yes, Betty McCaskill is so nice to everyone she meets. I was pleasantly surprised and will never forget her kindness. I'm grateful to have had the opportunity to meet her. My family's thoughts and prayers are with you all at this difficult time.
Janet Archer — Kansas City
Betty Anne was the rock (and sometimes roller) and often by her daughter, Claire McCaskill's side. She will be missed by all who knew her. Thank you Betty Ann for all you did as an awesome role model as a strong Missouri woman with leadership skills and a good sense of humor. Thank you Betty Anne for raising strong, intelligent women and family and being a wonderful grandmother. Claire my family's sympathy go out to you and family in this time of loss.
Sarah Starnes — Kansas City
"The apples don't fall far from the tree." Betty Anne's legacy lives on in so many ways, especially in her outstanding daughters.
Thomas E Ericksen — Kansas City
Claire, when I worked on your first campaign, I met her — you are a good reflection of her — I'm sure your steadfastness, friendliness and positive energies were all taught you by her — my prayers and thoughts are with you and your family at this time.
David Barger — Overland Park, KS
Right before Claire made it into the senate, I remember taking Betty Anne home from her grandsons high school graduation. She piled into my little red truck, and by the time we got her home, she declared me "a good Democrat." I have never forgot that wonderful lady, and am saddened by your loss.
Connie Stemmons — Mount Vernon
Betty Anne was one of my very favorite people. I have known her for many years. We belonged to the same sorority, Gamma Phi Beta, at UMC; and Bill and my late husband Bob were both members of Kappa Alpha. She was a delight to talk to, so down to earth like we are down here in the boondocks of SW Missouri. One big exception, however, we were Democrats! She was so proud of Claire, and all her children. She will be missed by many.
Margaret Arnold — Overland Park, KS
I feel like I have lost my second mother, For 25 or more years she has welcomed me into the McCaskill family. I cannot share just one memory because I have so many Betty I love you and I know you are at peace now.
Marcia Corbett — Mission, KS
I first met Betty Anne in 1971 during Mom's Weekend at the MU Theta house. She was a fun-loving, generous woman who made everyone laugh.
I had the pleasure of sharing her pride of Claire in 2006 as we sat at a table in the media room, which had been moved into the hotel ballroom because of the huge media attention her Senate race had attracted. Betty Anne could hardly contain herself with the excitement. She said, "Even the international media are here! Now that's really great!"
And you were really great, too, Betty Anne, to love and support so many of us along the way.
My thoughts and prayers are with the family during this sad time.
David Leuthold — Columbia
Claire, Thank you so much for the photos of your mother, which brought tears to my eyes. She was clear headed and straight-talking, and she enlivened and strengthened the Columbia City Council. I still laugh at how she opened the letter of recommendation I had sent to you, and posted it on the family bulletin board, circling in red the portion in which I had predicted that you would have a lot of electoral success. Obviously she was pleased with the comment, and helped insure that my prediction was correct. I extend my sympathies to you and your family.
Ruth Bamberger — Covington, KY
Betty Anne was always an inspiration to me, and taught me never to be cynical when times were rough! She, I, and numerous other brave men and women in Springfield fought hard for the ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment in Missouri during the '70s, and experienced much of the same kind of opposition that Claire faces today. But Betty never gave up! Thanks, Betty and Claire, for your example and service to this former Missourian!of Betty Anne. She was always a dynamo at the 2006 events demonstrating her dedication to the cause. May pleasant memories of her life comfort you in the time to come.
Kathy Marshall — Ballwin
I met your Mother when we were both in physical therapy. She had injured her wrists and I just had a total knee replacement. Physical therapy is tough and it's painful. Betty made the experience almost enjoyable. She would encourage me and others that were there almost as if she were a cheerleader at a ballgame. Betty was so easy to get to know. She never made you feel like you were talking to "the Senators Mother" if you know what I mean. Not once did she exploit who she was, she was just easy to talk to and get to know. Although Betty and I are on different sides of the political fence, we had some interesting conversations in PT. But she wasn't forceful with her opinions and always let me have my say. I think thats what I liked most about her. I felt listened to.
I know I'm not telling you anything you don't already know. She was your Mother. Betty was a delight and will be missed.
Herb & Sue Tillema — Columbia
We knew your mother, Betty, about as long as have known you--circa 1971. We are saddened by her passing. She lived a full life, however, and she was a splendid model for many, many other men and women. We rejoice in this. While we are sorry for our loss, and for yours, but no one can properly be sorry for Betty. What more could she have done?
Kathie Allison — Kansas City
I have worked many of Claire's campaigns from Kansas City and remember the wonderful enthusiasm that Betty brought into a room. BUT my favorite remembrance comes not from a democrat but a life long republican. My dear friend and companion of many years - Charlie Rootes - told me that he that donated to Claire's first senate campaign that day - jokingly I told him how proud I was of him- he said "well Betty had called him- they were at Missouri together and she said " Charlie how much money are you sending to Claire's campaign - he told me - you don't tell Betty "no". Charlie died in 2011 - maybe she can continue to convert him - again!
Bill Donius — St. Louis
Although I didn't know Betty Anne for a long time, she made an impression on me that will indeed last for a long time.
I first met her in my home in 2006 when I was hosting a fundraising event for Claire. I was shocked when Betty Anne interrupted Claire, to correct her on a tiny technicality from their past. Claire took this in stride. But, when Betty Anne interrupted a second time a few minutes later, Claire stopped her cold in her tracks! Everyone laughed.
I was instantly bonded to both Claire and Betty Anne. I quickly sensed and appreciated the authentic, loving, respectful nature of the relationship shared by mother and daughter. It's no wonder both turned out to be amazing public servants and really fun people to be around.
I can see it now... Betty Anne will be able to march directly to the man upstairs to ensure Claire gets the next U.S. Senate term she deserves!
My condolences to the family. You have so much to be proud of in Betty Anne!
Jackie — Eugene
There are so many memories of BA...met the whole McCaskill family when Claire was 1st elected to the House. What was the picture your dad said I had to know in order to work for you — something about the Piney River. You have so many life lessons from both your mom and dad. They give us life, teach us so much about living and loving life, but the last lesson they teach us in watching them age and then letting them go is the hardest. Your mom was full of lessons for all of us! Love you BA.
ABOUT BETTY ANNE
Betty Anne McCaskill, the first woman ever elected to the Columbia City Council, was a mainstay of Missouri Democratic politics throughout her life.
Inspired to get involved in politics after President Harry Truman delivered the commencement address at her University of Missouri graduation in 1950, Betty Anne was known for her own brand of plain-spoken, colorful, Midwestern sensibility, not unlike Truman's.
She and her husband, Bill McCaskill, worked for many candidates through the years, beginning with Senator Stuart Symington and every election year since. She was a friend to local town officials as well as Presidents, with the same campaign effort made for both.
As in her daughter Claire McCaskill's previous elections, in 2006 Betty Anne became a tireless fixture on the campaign trail as Claire successfully launched her first bid for the US Senate.
Betty Anne spoke on Claire's behalf at numerous events, where she famously peppered her remarks with self-effacing humor and phrases reminiscent of her Ozarks upbringing, such as "hornswoggled," "rickeydooed," and described the Medicare Part D "donut hole" as a "flimflam game."