Cover photo for Elizabeth Joan “Betty Jo” Little's Obituary
Elizabeth Joan “Betty Jo” Little Profile Photo
1935 Elizabeth Joan “Betty Jo” 2024

Elizabeth Joan “Betty Jo” Little

May 22, 1935 — January 13, 2024

Duluth

 

Elizabeth Joan “Betty Jo” Little (Dunsmoor) passed away peacefully in her Kenwood home, Saturday, January 13, 2024.

Betty Jo was born May 22, 1935 in Duluth, Minnesota to Gertrude and Sylvester Dunsmoor. The youngest of five children, she grew up in Jay Cooke State Park in a 3-house neighborhood owned by Minnesota Power. Throughout her childhood she enjoyed walleye fishing in the St. Louis River, riding the gas railcar down to Fond du Lac, playing school in her attic, and dancing with her siblings and their friends to their mother’s fantastic piano playing.

After graduating from Morgan Park High School in 1953, Betty Jo studied teaching and graduated from the Wisconsin State College in Superior with honors and memories of her many lifelong friends she made there, and spoke fondly of the “girls from the dorm” over the years. Her career as a kindergarten teacher covered many schools from St. Louis Park, and White Bear Lake, to Lincoln Elementary in Duluth as well as the surrounding areas of Homecroft, Munger, and Cloquet.

Children and Christian life-related activities and events were essential to Betty Jo throughout her entire life, from bible camp and youth group in Fond du Lac, to teaching vacation bible school in Kelsey, MN - where she met student pastor, Tom Little, the future love of her life. Tom moved east to teach at Stony Brook in New York, while Betty Jo pursued her kindergarten teaching career. The Lord eventually brought them together again over Christmas break in 1960, when they became engaged after a few dates, and their long-distance engagement and wedding plans continued by love-letters until they were united in marriage on a sunny day in June 1961.

Betty Jo quickly became the quintessential pastor's wife, a role she graciously filled and eagerly anticipated. From that day, she was ever-supportive of her husband Tom’s endeavors. Betty Jo and Tom also made time to help found the Montessori program in Duluth.  Tom was both pastor of many area churches over the years as well as a schoolteacher, and throughout their married life Betty Jo was honored to stand by his side.

Betty Jo and Tom added two boys, Tom Jr. and Tim to the family. Her “three boys” kept her busy and happily making memories along the way, including a year-long coast-to-coast motorhome roadtrip.

In 1978, Betty Jo fulfilled one of her own endeavors of owning and operating her own gift store, which was located in the wharf shops on Barkers Island in Superior. She named it The Vanishing Leprechaun. Her creative talents and classy taste for products and merchandising made the shop a destination spot for tourists and locals every season. She enjoyed chatting with customers, and spending time with the shop’s “employee of the year for 24 years,” her husband, Tom.

After Tom’s passing in 2002, Betty Jo filled her time with the things she loved - family, friends, church and serving. She joined a weekly swimming group at Miller Dwan where she met a new circle of friends, attended Christian retreats at Trout Lake near Brainerd, chauffeured many friends to their appointments, served on both the Duluth Women's Club and Aftenro executive boards, and managed the Aftenro gift shop. She enjoyed taking classes in grant-writing, and loved spending time with her three grandchildren, hosting sleepovers at Nana’s  in “the cozy corner”, playing board games and serving “eggs on toast” for breakfast.

Another goal Betty Jo fulfilled was a two year-journey writing a biography about the life of her husband Tom Little. They said if they ever wrote that book, it would be titled, Little by Little. In 2020 she completed the book about her loving husband Tom without his input, but we know he approves!

Betty Jo enjoyed frequent drives to the Twin Cities to shop and visit friends and family. She most recently made a road trip to Florida with her son and daughter-in-law, Tom and Amy, and a cruise to Alaska in 2021 (a bucket list item) which are treasured memories.

Betty Jo will be remembered for her kindness to others, love for her family, lifelong friendships and amazing sense of humor, excellent taste in event preparation and hosting, her solo singing and organ playing, a refined grace and impeccable style, and most recently, bedtime sing-alongs. Betty Jo is preceded in death by her loving husband, Reverend Thomas Little, parents Gertrude and Sylvester, siblings Shirley, Patricia, Douglas, and Robert.

Betty Jo is survived by her two sons Tom (Amy), Tim, (Lorraine), grandchildren Anna, Evan, and Lauren, plus many nieces and nephews.

Special thanks to Betty Jo's dedicated healthcare angels, Eda, Joni, Sharon, and Val for their loving care and gifts of companionship over the last 14 months, which allowed her to remain in her home.

A visitation will be Monday, Jan 22nd from 5-7pm in the Dougherty Funeral Home, where the visitation will continue Tuesday, Jan 23rd from 10am to the 11am Celebration of Life.  Luncheon will immediately follow the service at Northland Country Club, 3901 E Superior Street, Duluth MN. Burial will be at Forest Hill Cemetery.  Sign the online register book at, www.dfhduluth.com.  Arrangements by Dougherty Funeral Home, 600 E 2nd St., Duluth, MN, (218)-727-3555.

To send flowers to the family in memory of Elizabeth Joan “Betty Jo” Little, please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

Past Services

Visitation

Monday, January 22, 2024

5:00 - 7:00 pm (Central time)

Dougherty Funeral Home Duluth

600 East Second Street, Duluth, MN 55805

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Visitation

Tuesday, January 23, 2024

10:00 - 11:00 am (Central time)

Dougherty Funeral Home Duluth

600 East Second Street, Duluth, MN 55805

Get Directions

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.

Celebration of Life

Tuesday, January 23, 2024

Starts at 11:00 am (Central time)

Dougherty Funeral Home Duluth

600 East Second Street, Duluth, MN 55805

Get Directions

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.

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