You can laugh or cry; which would you rather do?
Isobel Batty, 98 years young, says that her life has been rich because she followed advice she received early on from her mother. As a young child Isobel broke her arm, and her mother said, “You can laugh or cry, which would you rather do? One shouldn’t dwell on anything negative. Negative things can be forgotten if you try.” Isobel took the lesson to heart and remembered it.
Isobel’s mother was her greatest example. “My mother was the most Christ-like person I have ever known,” she said. One thing that made a great impression on Isobel was the way her mother cared for hungry people. Frequently out-of-work men would be invited to sit at her table and eat with the family during the hard days of the depression.
Being positive wasn’t always easy. Isobel’s father died when he was 34 years old, leaving his young widow with five young children. But the little family in Vernal readjusted. Isobel’s mother took over her late husband’s business and became a mortician. This hard-working businesswoman later remarried and added four more children to the family.
Isobel attended BYU and graduated in 1937. She says that college was a wonderful experience. While at BYU she was active in White Key Honor Society, drama productions, and other activities. She especially enjoyed her speech classes on lower campus from Earl and Kathryn Pardoe. Her major was English with a speech and drama emphasis. She appreciated her BYU education because the things she learned and the experiences she had enabled her to help others throughout her life.
One of her assignments as she studied under the Pardoes was to write a pageant about Utah Lake. With the mentoring and guidance she received, the pageant turned out to be a very positive experience, which affected the rest of her life. When she returned to Vernal after graduation, she was asked to write an Easter pageant that was first performed in her ward, next in the high school, and then for nine years in the Vernal Tabernacle, now the Vernal Temple. It became a popular annual community event that involved many people.
Isobel taught English and drama for a year before marrying Paul Miles Batty. She had known him in junior high and high school. Isobel and Paul were married for 68 years. “These were my happiest years,” she says. “ We laughed together a lot.” The Battys have two living children. They lost a baby who lived eight months. But other children lived in their home through the years. Some came for the school year, while others came because they needed a home where they could thrive.
Isobel earned a degree in elementary education and taught in the primary and intermediate grades. Early in her career married women could not teach school, but they could substitute. During World War II a teacher shortage required that married women be allowed to teach.
In Vernal Isobel was well known because she was willing to share her time and talents. In addition to having her pageant performed, she tutored and trained people in her home, preparing them for drama competition. Many of her students went on to win a state drama title. She also tutored students preparing for the Declamation Speech Contest, a yearly, local Latter-day Saint seminary speech competition in which students chose a religious topic on which to prepare a short talk and present it to their peers. The speeches were graded and critiqued, with one boy and one girl named as winners to present their speeches at stake conference.
Isobel has an eye for detail and an artistic touch. Every year she selected a different theme for her Christmas tree and decorations. Lines of cars would drive by the Batty home during the season to see the holiday display; Isobel would start planning it right after Christmas and continue to work on it all year. She continues to have a love for flowers, and wherever she lives there are plenty of them. She enjoys experimenting with plants.
A beautiful collection of porcelain dolls, sculpted to look like the first ladies is on display in her home. Isobel dressed them in their inaugural ball gowns. These are her pride and joy. Many people have come to view her dolls; some have even expressed interest in buying the collection, but it’s not for sale.
In retirement Isobel’s life continues to be rich and active. She reads two books a week; she particularly enjoys historical novels, but she reads a variety of other genres and topics as well. She enjoys traveling and has traveled extensively overseas. She feels special ties to Paris, where she studied French, and to Switzerland, which she describes as a “happy, clean, busy place.” She continues to follow her mother’s advice to dwell on the positive things in life because she found long ago that it works.
March 1, 2012