In loving memory of Elizabeth Mary Solomons nee Jones 1925 - 2014
These pages were written by her immediate family.

Bette as a baby
Bette as a baby

Elizabeth Jones was born in Market Drayton in Shropshire on 16 November 1925 to Maurice (“Bert”) and Gertrude. She had an older brother also called Maurice but known as Mick. Bette’s mother ran a corner shop and her father was an electrician so despite the deprivations of the inter-war years they were fairly comfortably off. Since their parents both came from large families Bette and Mick grew up surrounded by aunts, uncles and cousins. Bette had a happy childhood in Market Drayton and flourished. She developed an open sunny character.

With the onset of World War Two Bert joined the RAF and was posted to Canada to train aircrew as part of the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan. The family went with him and took up residence in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan.

Bette was fourteen years old when they went to Canada and she continued her education there. Bette loved living in Moose Jaw, she made numerous friends and embraced the prairie life. Bette was an exemplary student and her education was crowned with the Governor General’s Award for academic excellence. Normally this would have included a scholarship to a Canadian University, but as a non-Canadian Bette was not allowed to take this up.

Bette as a teenager
Bette as a teenager

After the war the family returned to Market Drayton. Bette was obviously a very bright girl and had the ability to go to University. However the family could only afford to support one student so when Mick got into Oxford University that avenue was closed to her. Bette moved to London to work as a secretary for, among others, the founder of Tesco, Jack Cohen. One amusing story she told of those days: Jack Cohen asked her to get him a sandwich and she got him one with ham in it. He was amused, rather than displeased, at this (he being theoretically forbidden to eat pork, as a Jew), and he duly bit into it, with a wink at Bette, and said "I'm sure it's kosher ham!".

Bette found ‘digs’ with the Fowler family and became friends with their daughter Noreen. It was at Noreen’s 21st Birthday party in the St Michael’s Church Hall on Bounds Green Road in February 1948 when Bette met her future husband, Stan. Although Stan was born in the East End he’d joined the RAF and was based in Watnall near Nottingham. Stan and Noreen had known each other at school so it was fortuitous that he came regularly to London to see family and friends. Of course, after meeting Bette he had an additional reason to come to London when leave permitted.

Bette and Stan became engaged in July 1949 and on 24 July 1950 they were married in the parish church in Market Drayton

Bette and Stan wedding 1950
Bette and Stan wedding 1950

By this time Stan had left the RAF and was studying at London University. Like many young married couples at that time, they first moved in to live with Stan’s parents. As was the practice in those days, as a married woman Bette was no longer expected to work.

Stan found it hard to find teaching work after leaving university and in 1952 they decided that he should rejoin the RAF as a Flight Lieutenant. Bette and Stan moved into married quarters at RAF Yatesbury. On 12th September 1953 their son David was born.

Stan was posted to Hong Kong in 1955 and despite being heavily pregnant with her second child, Bette accompanied him. The journey included a voyage on a troopship with other families and an arduous flight from Singapore to Hong Kong. Their daughter Rachael was born in Kowloon on 21st June 1955.

Solomons family
Solomons family

Their time in Hong Kong had a significant effect on both Bette and Stan with oriental influences later being apparent in their house and in some of Bette’s artwork and cuisine. They enjoyed the “colonial” life and busy social life of an officer’s family.

Of course, across the boundary in China the Communist regime was in charge and Mao Zedong (Mao Tse-tung) was an ever present perceived threat. One day Bette went shopping in Kowloon. She noticed that the streets were quiet and there were few Europeans around. She also thought that she was the subject of quizzical stares from some of the locals. It was only when she got home that she discovered that there had been some rioting and that the British troops had been put on alert. Stan had been put in charge of a party of armed men. It was assumed that this was a prelude to a Chinese invasion but to Bette it had been a normal day out shopping.

Stan’s service in Hong Kong finished in 1957 and the family returned to the UK and settled in Rainham (Kent). For the next 30 years the demands of Stan’s career in teaching meant regular moves around the country.

Once both her children were in full-time education Bette decided to complete her education and resume a career. She qualified with a City and Guilds in dress textiles and design and gained a teaching certificate at Rochester College of Art.

Bette started teaching dress-making to girls at Sittingborne School. This was part of the Home Economics course at a time when students were taught how to make things (unlike the present emphasis on teaching design and marketing).


In the mid 60’s when the family lived in Wolverhampton, Bette taught dressmaking and embroidery in Whitmore Reans secondary modern school in one of the more deprived areas of the West Midlands. She found that because she was teaching a practical skill she was able to engage with the more disruptive girls and said that some girls told her that they came in ‘specially’ for her class!

Multi-cultural Wolverhampton in the mid 1960s was Enoch Powell’s constituency so it was a political hotspot. Bette became active in the local Labour Party with Stan and Rachael joining her in leafleting, canvassing and campaigning.

In 1972 Bette stood as a paper candidate for the newly created Sandwell Council and it must be said that she was rather relieved not to be elected! This interest in public service must run in the family as two members of her close family are currently serving as local councillors and one is a long-standing magistrate.

Bette and Stan
Bette and Stan

Bette and Stan have always enjoyed travel, particularly throughout Europe. As part of his degree course Stan spent a term in France. At the end of the term Bette joined him for a holiday in Nice, making her first trip to France and first air flight. This set the pattern for future years with Bette accompanying the school trips that Stan organised and the whole family taking advantage of Stan’s long school holidays to caravan in Europe. The family made many lifelong friends in those countries, particularly among others who enjoyed camping and caravanning.

After Bette’s father died in 1975 Gertrude, who was suffering from Parkinson’s Disease and early stages of dementia, came to live with them on an alternating basis meaning that for part of the year Bette was a full-time carer. Not able to work, Bette took up volunteering – including home visiting older people. She also took up painting.

Following Stan’s retirement they moved to Loughborough where Bette and Stan threw themselves into their third age. They found time to enjoy new activities such as rambling and rediscovered a range of hobbies and interests. They maintained their interest in travelling, theatre visits etc. Bette and Stan were founding members of the Loughborough U3A (University of the third Age) where Bette taught painting as well as participating in groups such as creative writing.

Through the U3A Bette and Stan made a wide range of new friends. Walks along the Black Brook proved a great inspiration to both of them, which is reflected in their poetry and painting.

Bette continued to be politically active and became a governor at the local primary school. She would also regularly spend time at the school helping the children with their reading.

Bette With grandchildren Xmas 2002
Bette With grandchildren Xmas 2002

In 1988 Bette and Stan were thrilled to be made grandparents when Rachael and her husband David presented them with a granddaughter, Roxanne. Roxanne’s brother, Stephen, was born in 1996. Bette revelled in the role of doting grandmother and loved to spend time with her grandchildren.

Bette had 20 years of active and creative retirement. However it proved all too short as Bette began to manifest memory problems and it eventually became clear that she was suffering the slow but ineluctable onset of Alzheimer’s disease. As with many people with Alzheimer's disease, Bette was able to manage with Stan's support in familiar surroundings.

At first Stan was able to care for her at home but after a stay in hospital in 2005 it became necessary for her to move to a care home to receive continuing nursing care.

She was very well looked after but her understanding of what was going on and who was visiting her began to slip away little by little over the next 9 years. One or two things kept her going. To the end of her life she was able to recognise her husband Stan, and her immediate family. Several parties were held for Bette and family on special occasions, involving special cakes created by the staff at the home. Her enjoyment of music and singing was undiminished.


Most important, however, were the daily visits by Stan, who became very well known at the home, and who would share jokes, treats of banana and chocolate and of course sherry and sweet whispers with her. Most of this period of Bette’s life was spent at Jasmine Court, for whose staff Stan and the family have nothing but praise and thanks.

In her final weeks, following a stay in hospital in 2014 she was transferred to Beaumanor Nursing Home where she also received excellent care. On 31 May 2014, on a sunny late afternoon Bette died peacefully in her sleep.

A natural optimist, Bette always saw the positives in her life. She took great pleasure in the successes and achievements of her family and others.

She will always be remembered for her love, care, encouragement and humour and for her wide ranging creativity, some of which is reflected on this site.

Rest in Peace.

Condolence Book

If you would like to leave a memory of Bette please visit the condolence book.

Thank you

Stan and family would like to thank everyone who came to the funeral for their good wishes, and also for the generous contributions in aid of Age UK.

This came to over £250 which with gift aid means that Age UK will benefit by over £300.