Bette Jane Mezzenga died on February 28, 2019, at the age of 95. She was preceded in death by her husband, Auggie, son, Thomas and daughter, Jill Carlson.
Bette was born in Winona, MN, to Henrietta (Sorenson) and Richard Greer. Her school age years were spent on the family farm in Zumbro Falls, MN, and she often reminisced about those years of country life, being outdoors and doing her farm chores as ‘good as any boy.’
After high school, Bette moved to Minneapolis where she got a job welding bombs at Honeywell during WWII. It was there she met a shy Italian young man, Auggie, who would become her loving husband, partner and biggest supporter for the next 65 years.
As a busy mom and homemaker in Minneapolis, Bette cared for and raised 5 children while also volunteering for the Red Cross, church and school activities. Life changed from this traditional role when she and Auggie purchased a restaurant and moved to Pequot Lakes in 1967. Soon thereafter, they bought property on Fawn Lake and Bette went back to her roots, creating the ‘gentleman’s farm’ she had always wanted. Together she and Auggie operated a business importing exotic pheasants and peacocks, shipping eggs all over the United States. As her family expanded to include grandchildren, the menagerie of domestic and not so domestic animals on the farm also grew. During that time, visiting family was never quite sure what the newest additions would be in the pens at grandma’s house.
Empty nest Bette channeled her unstoppable energy to volunteering for numerous service organizations. She was guardian ad litem for many years and was known for her advocacy for the children she represented and her frequent dispersal of fashion advice to the professionals who worked with her. She served on numerous Boards of Directors, including the Crow Wing County Welfare Board, PORT, Whispering Pines and St. Joseph’s Foundation Board of Trustees. She was most proud of her 23-year tenure at Crow Wing Power, 12 of which she served as Board President.
Bette and Auggie enjoyed traveling to all parts of the world and especially those trips that included their adult children. The highlight of those travels was when the family traveled to Italy in 2005.
Bette was a passionate woman, fiercely independent and always up for whatever challenge or project presenting itself. She was a force to be reckoned with and ‘all in’ whether it was weeding her numerous flower gardens, raising money for an innovative housing project for seniors or fulfilling a lifelong dream by attaining her nursing degree at age 49.
Bette will be deeply missed by her loving family: children, Jan (Doris) Mezzenga, Susan (Jim Eder) Mezzenga, Patty (Tom) Steiger; daughter-in-law, Susie Mezzenga; son-in-law, Merlin Carlson; 23 grandchildren, 41 great grandchildren and 1 great-great grandchild.
Mass of Christian Burial will be held at Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic Church, Crosslake at 11:00 am on Saturday, March 23. Visitation one hour prior to service and luncheon immediately following Mass. Arrangements are with Kline Funeral Home, Pequot Lakes.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests memorials go to the Heartland Animal Rescue Team (HART) in Baxter or Wild and Free Animal Rehabilitation in Garrison.