Elizabeth ‘Betsey’ McNamara War

Friday, September 6, 2019
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Elizabeth “Betsey” McNamara War, of Helena, passed away Sept. 4, 2019 following years of suffering with Alzheimer’s. Betsey was being comforted by her husband, family and friends for three years at Touchmark in Helena. As she passed, she was surrounded by her husband and her sister. She was 75 years old. 

Betsey was born to Jack and Mary McNamara in Billings, Montana on June 21, 1944. She was raised in Helena and attended Cathedral High School; she was proud to be a “greenie.” She attended Gonzaga University and Carroll College and graduated in 1966 as a registered nurse. Betsey married her high school sweetheart, Bill War, a Carroll College-MSU Chemical Engineering graduate. They began an exciting life together, with Bill working in the chemical and oil and gas industries, and the two of them with their growing family moving from place to place over the years. 

From Helena it was Bozeman for graduate school; from there to Concord, California; Midland, Michigan; Denver, Colorado; Salt Lake City, Utah; Cody, Wyoming; Billings, Montana; back to Denver; back to Billings; a time in New Orleans; on to Seal Beach, California; back to Billings, then to Denver; and finally back home to Helena. Through all the moves, Betsey picked up her life without complaint and moved forward to make more friends and become involved in a new community. 

Betsey truly enjoyed shopping for her children and grandchildren. They were the light of her life. When the children were young, she was mostly a stay-at-home mom. She loved dressing up and going out. She had a very full social life during our working years. Nothing made her happier than heading to Nordstorms for a shopping spree.  

While in Denver and Billings, Betsey truly enjoyed her prayer groups. During her time in Denver, she made a pilgrimage to Magigoria, which made a major impact on her. She made many good friends all over the country, and during her Denver years authored a prayer book called “Pray Pray Pray” which was published and is now spread all over the world, including in the Vatican. She nursed for Dr. Hatch, an optometrist in Billings, and obtained her Realtor’s license there as well. She saw challenges as opportunities. 

While in Helena, Betsey was on the board of the Helena Symphony, a member of the Ancient Order of Hibernians, and a member of the St. Helena’s Parish Council.  

Some of Betsey’s most enjoyable times were spent with her family, traveling with friends, or at our cabin on Canyon Ferry Reservoir. She also traveled with her husband on several European and South America trips as well as enjoyed the relaxation of several Mexican resorts. 

Betsey was preceded in death by her parents, Jack and Mary McNamara; and nephew Jonas Chisholm. 

Betsey is survived by her husband of 54 years, William War; her children: daughter Kari Vondra of Livingston with her husband, Charles, and their children Cole and Kodi Vondra; daughter Deb Bolken of Cody, Wyoming with her husband, Chad, and children James, John and Lauren; and son Tom of Boise, Idaho with his wife, Amy, and children Sophie, Natalie and Alexandra. She is also survived by her sister Sue Chisholm and husband, Curt, her niece Traci Swingley and nephew Josh Chisholm of Helena; her cousins John, Lia and Leta Cooney; and her uncle, Frank and Mary Ellen Cooney. 

Betsey’s family extend their utmost thanks to the angels at Touchmark’s Memory Care Unit and the administration there who supported us during these years. Also, special thanks to the Hospice RN’s, social workers and volunteers who buoyed us up in her final days.

A Funeral Mass is scheduled for 12:00 p.m., Wednesday, Sept. 11, 2019 at the Cathedral of St. Helena, 530 N. Ewing St., with a reception to follow in the Brondel Center of the Cathedral. Burial will be held at Resurrection Cemetery. In lieu of flowers please consider supporting the Alzheimer’s Association (225 N. Michigan Ave. Floor 17, Chicago, IL 60601) which is working toward a cure for Alzheimer’s disease, in memory of Betsey. 

Please visit www.aswfuneralhome.com to offer a condolence to the family or to share a memory of Betsey.