Bessie Ellen Campbell Bilodeau Vanhooser was a loyal wife, mother, grandmother, sister, aunt, and friend. She departed this life on September 9, 2021, at age 76.
While Bessie would have preferred to have died fishing, she passed peacefully at her home in Carthage, Missouri, surrounded by family on both sides of the veil.
She was born to Albert and Vena Campbell on October 4, 1944, in Carthage, Missouri.
After graduating from Carthage High School, Bessie started on a life-long adventure involving education and family.
While attending nursing school in Fort Smith, Arkansas, she met John Alan Bilodeau. They were married on October 10, 1963, just ten days after meeting. It must have been a good match, because they were married nearly 30 years. Together, they had three children: John, Vena, and Dorcia. Bessie put her nursing education on hold to raise her family.
She did what she had to do to provide for her family including making bed springs at Leggett & Platt and Steadley for decades.
After her husband John passed away in 1995, Bessie returned to nursing school and became a licensed practical nurse. She worked in area nursing homes until her retirement. She married Carl Vanhooser on September 16, 2001.
This was the start of a new beginning and another chapter in her adventuresome life. Their honeymoon was a camping/fishing trip on the river bank. The honeymoon never ended. We know this because they went fishing every year for their anniversary — and on any other day that ended with Y. Bessie’s family grew. C
arl’s four children, Carl Jr, Melissa, Scott, and Samantha, were integrated into Bessie’s family as if they had always been there. With more than twenty grandchildren and more than thirty great-grandchildren, there was always plenty of love and laughter. Family held a special place in Bessie’s heart and life. She not only raised her three children, she also raised four of her grandchildren. In addition to these children, Bessie had numerous individuals who called her mom, Momma B, or Granny B. Her door was always open, there was always room for one more at the table, and the couch was available for anyone who needed a place to sleep.
Bessie was everyone’s grandma. She never turned a person away. Her generosity and welcoming spirit created a home for many people through the years. Bessie collected fish, flowers, and cast iron skillets. Her flower and vegetable gardens matched her personality — abundant and colorful. Bessie had a delightful sense of humor and always appreciated anything that would produce laughter. She was a gifted storyteller who loved fishing and camping. Most of all, she loved her family including her niece and nephew, extended family of cousins, aunts, and uncles, and the friends who became family.
Bessie was entrusted to Derfelt’s Baxter Chapel for cremation. Her memorial service will be at 10:30 a.m., at the United Methodist Church, Galena, KS on Saturday, September 18, 2021. Informal graveside services will follow at Curtis Cemetery west of Carthage at 3:00 p.m. Bring a lawn chair, share a story, and help celebrate Granny B.
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