Elizabeth "Betty" Retterath


Elizabeth (Betty) Retterath, 90, Lidgerwood, ND, died on Sunday, January 12, 2014 at Sheyenne Care Center, Valley City, ND under the care of Hospice with her family present.

Elizabeth Isabel Barnes was born on April 10, 1923 to Maude (Hanson) and Elmer Barnes in Burlington, IA.  She was the fourth of five children.  She was baptized on October 21, 1923 at Trinity Lutheran Church in Burlington.  Betty graduated from Burlington High School in 1941 and received her Registered Nurse degree from the Burlington Hospital School for Nurses in 1944.

Immediately after graduation, Betty joined the Army Nurse Corps and graduated from Basic Training as a Second Lieutenant.  Betty once commented that all of the clothing was way too big for her five foot frame!  Her first assignment was at Camp Carson, CO for surgery training where the surgeons repaired and remade thumbs and ears for returning soldiers from WWII.  Her next assignment was Schick General in Clinton, IA, where she given the task to create a care plan for a group of incoming POWs. Betty would care for, came to love, and eventually marry one of those POWs—Peter N. Retterath.

After their marriage on October 25, 1945, at St. Boniface Church in Clinton, IA, the couple moved to Lidgerwood, ND, where during their 59 years of marriage, they raised five children. Betty worked as an RN at the St Gerard’s Hospital, Hankinson, ND, for most of her career.  She was an active volunteer at St. Boniface Catholic School and Church, as well as many community events in Lidgerwood, and was a charter member of the Lidgerwood Women’s Club.  Betty was well known in her neighborhood for her wonderful baking skills, especially chocolate chip cookies with three chocolate chips in each cookie so the kids could not fight over the cookies!

Pete and Betty traveled around the nation and spent 25 years as snowbirds in Tucson, AZ, where they lived and volunteered extensively at the Pima County Air Museum.  During their time in Tucson, Betty also volunteered for the Tucson Veterans Hospital, worked at several other Tucson hospitals and  hospice.

Betty was an extraordinary nurse. Over the years, many people told her that she was the best nurse they  had ever had, but none was more grateful for her skills and expertise than her husband.

When Pete died in 2004, Betty continued living in Lidgerwood. In 2007, Betty moved to Fargo and resided at RiverView Place for four years, Edgewood Vista for two years and most recently Sheyenne Care Center in Valley City, ND.

Betty was preceded in death by her infant brother Bobbie, her parents, her sister Doris (Harry) Kulp,  brother Don (Mary) Barnes ,  brother Jim (Harriett) Barnes,  an infant son, and her husband. 

Betty is survived by her children: John (Wendy) Retterath, Judi (Darnell) Lundstrom, Kathy (Pete) Erickson, Patrick (Cheryl) Retterath, and Jeannie (Bob) Bush. She is also survived by 12 grandchildren, 14 great-grandchildren, and 5 nieces and 4 nephews.

On lieu of flowers, please consider donating to the Alzheimer’s Association-North Dakota Chapter.

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Memories Timeline


  1. Many happy memories of your family, especially time spent at Lake Elsie with the Orths. Thinking of you at this time, Bev, Wayne and Mom Marcie

  2. Valley City North Dakota
    Dear Judy and John:

    Thank you, for sharing your mother with me. My only regret is that I did not meet her sooner. I have been a nurse for 20 years, and I have been blessed to meet many patients over the years, and a few of them have grabbed my heartstrings and I have never forgotten them. Betty is one of those I will never forget. I will never forget the day that she was particularly restless and I asked her if she wanted to come and help me. Her and I went to distribute some medications. She just fell into the routine of nursing, standing beside me, never intruding and watching very closely. One of the staff said to her “Oh, we have a new Director of Nursing?” Betty responded with “Of course.” Our staff loved her and felt blessed that she was entrusted into our care. Thanks again, for sharing your mother with us.

  3. Alexandria MN
    My deepest condolences to the family. As a young child and into high school, I have many fond and wonderful memories of time spent at your home. I will never forget them. Always a treasure in my heart. Please know I will be thinking of you in these days and many days to come.
    Much love, Barb Duerr Hinrichs

  4. Betty was such a joy to spend time with during my time working at Edgewood! I loved listening to her stories about the army and her children. She will be dearly missed. My prayers are with your family.

  5. My deepest sympathy to your family. Betty was a wonderful neighbor when I was growing up across the street. We definitely used her nursing skills more then once! Prayers to your family.

  6. Burlington IAI have so many fond memories of our trip to Fargo a few years ago…and when we were kids…and Aunt Betty’s trips to see us in Burlington, too. Much love to our cousins and your families.

  7. Burlington IowaA slow mail card is on the way, but this is a great way to tell you all how much we loved Aunt Betty. Such great humor. Survivor. Loved us and told us that frequently. We will miss her, but I can’t wish her back. What a grand reunion going on in Heaven. Love to you all. Carole and Dean

  8. Fargo NdDear families, my thoughts and prayers to all of you ! It was a pleasure to meet yr mom and her families!! She will be miss very much !!!! God bless u all! From Tammy, employee from Glenn’s Place Edgewood Vista

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