Betty Ann Hamilton was born at home in Forest, Wash., July 16, 1926, to Frank and Edith Hamilton. She grew up a farm girl in the Newaukum Valley, south of Chehalis. Betty would help her daddy milk the cows, operate the team of horses, and then learning to run the tractors and farming equipment. She told many stories of living through the depression, hence it was very difficult for her to throw things away. She enjoyed cooking along side of her mother.
Betty loved riding her ponies and had too many pets to count, and was in 4-H where she exhibited her dairy cattle. She went to school in Chehalis all 12 years, graduating from the original Chehalis High School. In her young adult life, she loved to dance. Betty would regularly attend the local Playquato Dancehall. There, she would meet country music artists. Then in the late 1940’s, she found herself in Hollywood, Calif., building and maintaining swimming pools by day and working as a waitress at a Famous Country Music Dancehall & Restaurant by night, where she met more country music artist such as Hank Thompson, Jim Reeves, The Auctioneer LeRoy Vandyke, and many more. In the mid 1950’s, she returned to Chehalis to work at the Olympia Oyster House. In 1958, she began her own business. At that time, you could see all three of the Washington State’s Mountains from the Newaukum Valley, so she named her café the Tri-Mountain Burger Bar. In the early 1960’s her business grew, so she designed a newer and larger Tri-Mountain Restaurant & Truck Stop. Both were located off I-5 in Napavine area. In the early 1970’s, she became interested in racing cars at the Tenino Raceway, car #73.
While operating her businesses, she continued to help her parents on the Walnut Shade Farm. Come hay season, she was there running the tractor, mower, and the crew. She also assisted in raising and showing her parent’s registered Black Angus Cattle all over the Pacific Northwest, down to San Franisco, Calif., and up to the PNE in Vancouver, B.C. She was the leader of the Tri-Mountain 4-H Club, where her two children also showed live stock all over the NW. Later on she enjoyed watching from the bleachers her grandchildren and great grandchildren showing their horses, market steers, hogs, and sheep at the fairs.
In 1977, at age 51, a friend in the business talked her into setting up her vehicle and beginning to drive pilot cars for oversized loads. This was her calling. She was very dedicated to be the BEST, she would literally go all over the state of Washington and physically measure the height of the bridges, take polaroid pictures, and then file them for reference. She specialized in over height and super loads, “Don’t tell Betty that it can’t be done!” She would find a way to get that load delivered safely, and enjoy every minute! She took loads across America, all the way to Florida. She made many friends along the way and was admired by many in the business. This was a special way for her to stay independent for the rest of her hard working life until she fell and got a concussion in October of 2018.
At age 92, she had to retire! Since then, she has lived at home with family and caregivers taking care of her until her passing March 13, 2021, at age 94, with her daughter, Deborah and son, Rodney, by her side. She left behind a large family who loved her dearly; her two children, Deborah Graham and husband, Jerry Graham, and son, Rodney Hamilton and wife, Anne Hamilton; seven grandchildren; 22 great-grandchildren; and five great- great-grandchildren, as well as all of their spouses. She will be missed by numerous relatives and friends!
Services will held March 27, 2021, at First Christian Church in Chehalis, Wash. Following the service, a graveside will be held at Fern Hill Cemetery. Arrangements are by Brown Mortuary in Morton, Wash.