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Elizabeth ‘Betty’ Christina Dahlem Woodruff

(Aug. 20, 1923 - Sept. 27, 2013)

Elizabeth “Betty” Christina Dahlem Woodruff, 90, of Cody, died on Sept. 27, 2013, at the New Horizons Care Center in Lovell.

She was born Aug. 20, 1923, in Marmarth, N.D., to Bernard and Mary Berg, the second born in a family of 13 children.

The family moved to Lake Bronson, Minn., in 1926 when she was 2. In 1928 at the age of 5, both she and her older sister started school together which was a two-mile walk from home, but because of the extreme cold in northern Minnesota in the winter, she had to drop out at Christmas when her older sister, Alice, went to live at their grandmother’s house, which was closer to the school.

In 1929, they moved to a homestead 10 miles west of Circle, Mont., where she attended the first through seventh grade in a one-room schoolhouse, which is still standing. Seven years of drought drove them back to the Lewistown, Mont., area, where her mother Mary had grown up. After completing the eighth grade at Paradise School, a one-room schoolhouse in the Big Snowy Mountains, Betty graduated from Fergus County High School in 1941.

After high school, she worked for the Department of Agriculture in Lewistown, Bozeman and Great Falls, Mont. In Bozeman she met and fell in love with Harry Dahlem. They were married March 29, 1949, in Billings.

After their honeymoon, they settled at the Red Star Camp, a guest lodge, grocery store and sawmill operation started and owned by Harry’s parents. In 1950 Harry and Betty took over the lodge and sawmill from his parents. The name of the resort was changed to Shoshone Lodge. The sawmill’s name was changed from the Red Star Mill to the Star Mill and Mercantile.

In 1951, the Cody Council for Youth asked Harry and Betty if they would open the lodge for the youth of the county, with skiing, sledding and tubing behind the lodge. The following year, Harry and Betty acquired the special use permit for Sleeping Giant Ski Area, which Harry and a group of local ski enthusiasts had started as a ski club-run operation in 1937.

In 1953 Harry and Betty used the mill to cut house logs and lumber to build the ski lodge at its current location; they also continued to supply the local market with house logs, dimensioned lumber, bridge timbers, planks and sawdust.

The Shoshone Lodge was love at first sight for Betty, and behind her family, remained the love of her life for the rest of her life. She loved everything about it, the beautiful setting, all the visiting animals, the log cabins with knotty pine interiors, the hardwood floors, rustic furniture, most all of it was built on site by Harry and family members along with skilled craftsmen who worked for the Dahlem family. She also thoroughly enjoyed the guests and skiers.

A son, Keith, was born to Betty and Harry on Aug. 21, 1950. A daughter, Debbie blessed the family by arriving on May 8,1953.

Tragedy struck on March 17, 1954, when Harry died at age 37. Betty at age 30 was left to raise two small children and manage both the summer and winter businesses, of which she was to be proprietor for more than 50 years. She put her heart and soul into the success of the lodge and ski area, making many improvements and additions with the help of many friends and relatives all while running a vibrant tourist trade.

Betty was known for her hospitality, work ethic and fabulous cooking. She had a great sense of humor and loved to laugh. She honored her parents and helped whenever she could. Her dad, Bernard Berg, stayed at the lodge for many years doing carpenter work, helping and entertaining tourists.

In December 1959, Betty married Lynn Lee Woodruff, a mechanically talented individual, who helped with the ski area. She and the family spent many a late night grooming the mountain, stamping lift tickets, making Betty’s own chili, baking pies for years from scratch, and preparing for the next day’s powder hounds.

Lee and Betty had one daughter, Dianne, who was born Oct. 1, 1961.

Lee and Betty divorced in 1977, but remained friends. Betty’s strong will to succeed, independent spirit and strong work ethic have shaped her family’s legacy, for which they will always be grateful. She greatly enjoyed the Cowboy Poetry and Music Festival held in Cody each spring; it reminded her of her three brothers Russell, Raymond and Don and one brother-in-law Wendell West who played Western and early cowboy music along with composing their own songs.

Betty was a charter member of the Soroptimist Club of Cody, the Rocky Mountain Ski Area Association and the Buffalo Bill Historical Center.

Betty is survived by son H. Keith Dahlem of Cody; daughters Debbie (Steve) Christiansen of Powell and Dianne Woodruff of Wasilla, Alaska; two grandchildren, Christy (Larry) Larsen and Mike (Betsy) Christiansen all of Powell, as well as four great-grandchildren: Bianca and Mattie Larsen and Callie Ann and Cade Christiansen. Five of her siblings are still living, Donald Berg of Denver, Joan (Lloyd) Mason of Suprise, Ariz., Leona West of Everett, Wash., Naomi (Ron) Myers of Tucson, Ariz., and Ruth (Keith) Walla of Sidney, Mont., as well as many nieces and nephews.

Services will be held at 11 a.m. Friday, Oct. 4, at the Cody United Methodist Church. Burial will follow at the Riverside Cemetery in Cody.

Memorial donations in Betty’s name can be made to a memorial of your choice.

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