Maria Elizabeta Eleanora Teresa “Betty” Bianchi Cole Grohne, age 92, died Sunday, December 2, with family around her, at her home in Decatur.
Betty was born January 1, 1920, in Lauriam, MI, to Italian immigrants Narcisis and Edith (Cheli) Bianchi. She graduated in 1941 from Ravenswood Hospital School of Nursing, earned a Bachelor of Science degree in 1964 from Millikin University, and earned a Master’s degree in Health Care Administration in 1975 from Sangamon State University.
Betty started working as a nurse at Decatur and Macon County Hospital in 1955. She worked her way up to an appointment in 1970 as Associate Director of Nursing, where she remained until her retirement in 1977. During her tenure, she was responsible for the operation of the pediatric, oncology, cardiac-intensive care and one-day care units. The one-day care unit was the first of its kind in downstate Illinois and Betty organized and maintained responsibility for it until her retirement.
Betty started volunteering for the Macon County Unit of the American Cancer Society in 1947, and served two years as president of the unit’s board of directors. While working at Decatur Memorial Hospital, she also was active with many community agencies, including the American Tuberculosis Society ( now the American Lung Association), the Mental Health Association and the Alcoholism Council.
In 1991, Betty had the honor of being nominated for the YWCA’s Women of Excellence award in Science and Medicine. She married Homer Cole in Chicago in 1941 and he preceded her in death in 1971. She married Karl Grohne in Decatur in 1977 and he preceded her in death in 2006. She also was preceded in death by her son, Tom Grohne, sister Myra (Dan) Austin, brothers Julius and Ronald Bianchi, cousin Rinaldo Bianchi, nephews Neil Cole and Robert Miller, nieces Katy Jo and Joyce Miller, and great nephews Andrew and Christopher Flajser.
Betty leaves her children, Bart (Sandy) Cole of Decatur, Terry Cole (Michelle Hopkins) of Kirkland, WA, Nanc Cole of Durango, CO, Bruce (Valerie) Grohne of Decatur, and Marta (David) Grothe of Savoy, IL; grandchildren Jared Cole, Tanner (Tiffany) Cole, Tony Cole, Gina Cole (Andrew Miller), Steve (Kristen) Grohne, Kristy (Pat) Riley, Mike Edgcomb, and Holly (Dan) Buchholz; great grandchildren Madison, Westin and Will Grohne, Maggie and Henry Riley, and Mina and Roland Buchholz; beloved niece Ginna Austin (Steve) Flajser and their children Austin (Jenny), James (Meg), and Spencer; nephews John (Kay) Matthews, Ben (Sue) Cole and Ronnie Bianchi; nieces Sue Cole, Gina (Scott) Ford and Tina (Jim) Shores; cousin Daniele (Daniela) Bianchi; many loved great nieces and great nephews; all her South Side and Ft. Myers, FL friends; and special friend Pat Campbell.
Betty was the matriach of a large extended family who adored her. From working, raising a family and furthering her education, to her devotion to helping others in her community, to hiking Le Cinque Terre in Italy at age 87, Betty constantly inspired everyone she knew. She was a shining light in many lives; her grace, humor and strength touched us all. She will be deeply missed.
Credit: Family Members