Betty Joan Neilson

On Tuesday, November 10, 2020, Betty Joan Neilson, a loving wife, and mother of five children, passed away peacefully at the age of 88 in her home in the company of family.

Betty Jo was born on October 7, 1932, in St. George, Utah, to Clawson Joseph and Dixie Judd Burgess. She was raised in St. George and spent the summer months ranching in beautiful Pine Valley, Utah.  As a fifth generation of the original Burgess Pine Valley pioneers, she loved the valley and was proud of her heritage.

She achieved an associate degree from Dixie College.  She diligently served in church callings throughout her life. On February 28, 1953, she was married to her high school sweetheart, Clayton A. Neilson, in the St. George Temple. Together they raised two sons, Brad (Emily) Neilson and Chris (Ronda) Neilson, and three daughters, Cindy (Marv) Reeder, Kathy (Clark) Bird, and Brenda (Thomas) Weixler, in Las Vegas before moving back to sunny St. George.

As the first grandchild to Joseph and Effie May Judd Whitehead, St. George’s treasured candy store owners, Betty Jo developed a hankering for sweets. Having known each other since age five, Clayton recalls Betty Jo slipping behind her grandfather’s display counter to go through all the candy boxes in search of her favorite taffy and candy bars. Her favorite thing to say was, “I’ll have one of those, one of those, one of those… and charge it!” After practically being raised in the now-historic Thomas Judd General Store, Betty Jo was inspired to keep a ‘candy drawer’ in her kitchen to share her love of sweets with friends and family, just as she had done as a child.

The candy-lover also had an affinity for horses. The time Betty Jo spent cattle ranching and horseback riding with her father resulted in her ability to out-ride all of the boys in Pine Valley, bareback, nonetheless. Though somewhat shy and uncomfortable in the spotlight, she was crowned the St. George Rodeo Queen at age 18 in 1950.

Later in life, Betty Jo and Clayton served as missionaries in the St. George Member Locator Mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. They served diligently from January 2001 to July 2003, maintaining and contemporizing member records in the St. George Tabernacle.

Betty Jo was known for her dry sense of humor and witty one-liners. She was an avid reader and talented quilter like her mother, Dixie, and grandmother, Effie. She spent countless hours hand-quilting baby blankets for her grandchildren.  Above all, she loved spending time with her family.

Betty Jo is survived by her husband of 68 years, Clayton, their five children, 24 grandchildren, 33 great-grandchildren, and four great-great-grandchildren.  Two grandchildren, Taylor and Callen, and daughter-in-law Kerry, preceded her in death. Her three siblings also survive her, Jeri (Dennis) Iverson, Jackilyn (Dusty) Fonnesbeck, C. Judd (Janice) Burgess.

Services will be held Saturday November 14, 2020 at 1 PM.  Out of love and concern for your safety, we invite you to join us via live casting at . Please use event ID: 40541 and password: BJN2020

Arrangements are made under the direction of Spilsbury Mortuary, 110 S Bluff St, St. George, Utah. Friends and family are invited to sign her online guestbook at






Spilsbury Mortuary Chapel
110 S. Bluff
St. George, UT


Guest Book

9 Responses

  1. Lots of fond memories with Betty as Jackie and I grew up! We thought Betty and Clayton were the perfect couple and they were both so attractive!

    Much love to you Clayton and to all of your family! You have been so devoted to Betty and are a wonderful example of what a marriage should look like! Love you all!!!

  2. Sherrie and I send our condolences. We have enjoyed their friendship and hospitality over the years, especially in Pine Valley.

    Keith and Sherrie Thomas
    Las Vegas, NV

  3. I am so great-full for Betty Jo encouraging me and picking me up to attend primary once a week when i was 10/11 years old. Took missionary lessons at their home and joined the church due to my friedship with Brenda and Chris and the example their family exemplified. So sorry for their loss my heart goes out to them all. The Neilson family. Changed my life love them all. Prayers & thoughts from North Carolina.

  4. My earliest memories of Aunt Betty was on our yearly school-clothes shopping trips to Las Vegas as a kid. Because there wasn’t many places to shop in St. George at the time, we would all pile in the car for a trip to visit Uncle Clayton, Aunt Betty, and their children in Northern Las Vegas. Luckily K-mart was in their neighborhood. 🙂 I always looked forward to visiting them. I was so excited when they moved to St. George. A high-light was going to their place in Pine Valley. I remember when their home was built, some people thought it was going to be a hotel. I was so proud that I was related to the people with the biggest house in the valley at the time. I wish I would of attended more lunch dates at Paula’s with her. The times I went will always hold a special place in my heart. I will miss you Aunt Betty. Thank you for always making me feel like somebody when I was around you. You are truly an elect lady!

    Your Niece, Marnie

  5. I remember going to many Neilson family reunions and then all of us Neilson cousins would go up to our favorite swimming hole in Veyo, Utah and sometimes we went to the sand dunes in Snows Canyon to run around under a full moon. Good memories.
    Marlin Neilson

  6. Thank you for webcasting Betty Jo’s service. It was a wonderful tribute to a fabulous lady. The Neilson family has always been special to us. I’m personally honored that Clayton baptized me a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. As my brother said we took the missionary lessons in the Neilson’s home. They have always been special to us. Once I gave a talk in sacrament on missionary work. I gave the example of we never know how many seeds can be planted. By Brenda inviting my brother to primary and then I tagged along. Through just my own personal family along with my husband it’s hard to count how many lives that one primary invitation has changed. We have had several of our kids go on missions and the lives that have been touched in the states and other countries. Lives have been touched in Mongolia, Montana, New Mexico, Mexico and Brazil from that one primary invitation. I loved hearing stories of Betty Jo and her family. It brought back special memories of Betty Jo Potatoes, Pine Valley, homemade ice cream and spending time with many of you. I know Betty Jo was always one of my moms favorites. I’m sure my mom was excited for her arrival. I know being a member of this church has changed my life for the better and a lot of that started from the couch on Navajo Lane. Many great thanks. Love and hugs to you all.

  7. I am sad to hear of Aunt Betty’s passing. However, she had a long and wonderful life. I have great memories of time in Pine Valley with your family and I miss those days. I pray for comfort and peace during this time for you.

  8. I am sorry to hear of Aunt Betty’s passing. However, she lived a good and long life. I have very fond memories of spending time in Pine Valley with your family and miss those days. Your family is in my thoughts and prayers during this time. I wish I could have attended the service yesterday for her, but due to the COVID situation didn’t do so. However, I did view it on-line and it was a very nice memorial for her.

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