Betty Kay Rodriques - age: 73
(May 31, 1938 to June 09, 2011 )
Resident of Ukiah, California
After a courageous battle with ovarian cancer, Betty Kay Rodrigues, 73, passed away at home with her loved ones on June 9. A woman of pioneer stock and humble origins with a radiant spirit, she was a friend to all and a mentor to many.
Kay was born on May 31, 1938 as the only child to George and Kathleen Kneeland. The daughter of a sheep rancher, she grew up on the family farm south of Ukiah. Her simple, rural upbringing in post-depression Mendocino County left her with a strong, humble, yet confident spirit and a love for the simple things in life.
Kay lived and raised her children on Nelson and Son’s ranch in Ukiah. After re-marrying, she spent the next 22 years on cattle ranches in Fairfield, Garberville, Paulina (Oregon) and Ferndale. In 2003, Kay returned to the Ukiah family farm to care for her mother.
Kay will be remembered as an independent, strong woman that could run a crew during grape harvest, calve out heifers in a bitter Oregon winter, and feed a “spread” to branding crews, all with her effortless grace.
Kay had an appetite for life and adventure and a rare ability to find beauty in the grand and simple. Once back in Ukiah, she spent her days tending to her garden, cooking, traveling, reading, bird watching, riding the four-wheeler to the river, and spending time with family and friends.
Her greatest love was her family. She is survived by her two children Jim Nelson of Ukiah and Linda Buckner (husband David) of Lakeport, grandchildren Alexandra Nelson, Jamie and Christie Buckner, Zack and Jennifer Sapiente, step-daughters Michele Sapiente (husband John) and Connie Harkey, her beloved companion Buhl Hoover, dear friends Mary Ellen and Charlie Hale, Rosie Lucchetti, and Gloria Thompson, and her faithful four-legged companion “Muppet.”
Kay lived and died with graceful strength and tenacity. Her life was an inspiration to those of who were blessed by her friendship, guidance, and modeling of what makes up the “good life.”
A celebration of life will be held at a later date at Kay’s home in Ukiah. Donations can be made in her memory to the Ukiah Animal Shelter at 300 Seminary Avenue, Ukiah.