Cover photo for Elizabeth "Betsy" Pilkington's Obituary
Elizabeth "Betsy" Pilkington Profile Photo
1955 Elizabeth "Betsy" 2022

Elizabeth "Betsy" Pilkington

February 1, 1955 — August 20, 2022

North English


Elizabeth P. (Betsy) Warner Pilkington


Elizabeth P. (Betsy) Pilkington, 67, passed away on August 20, 2022 in Iowa City, surrounded by her family, following a short but intense battle with cancer.

Betsy was born on February 1, 1955 to Bruce Nelson Warner and Georgia Lortz Warner. She grew up in North English, Iowa and enjoyed a close relationship with her older sister Mary. Betsy developed a love of reading at a very early age, and when given a choice, would spend her day captivated by a good book- her most beloved being Anne of Green Gables. Betsy was active in Girl Scouts through her school years. She began piano lessons in first grade and continued through high school, becoming a skilled pianist. She graduated from English Valleys High School in 1973, where she participated in drama, band, and chorus.

She attended the University of Iowa where she received her degree in social studies education in 1977, and a graduate certificate in library sciences in 1978. During that time, she met her husband-to-be, Gary Pilkington, whom she wed in 1978. Gary and Betsy resided on a farm north of North English and Betsy taught 5th grade for a few years before starting a family. Soon after, the couple welcomed three children; Anne Kathryn (Anne with an E, of course), John Warner, and Mary Elizabeth. Betsy was a loving and affectionate mother, a dedicated English Valleys sports fan, and an avid proponent of education and learning.

Betsy later returned to teaching in 2001 and taught 6th grade at Lutton Elementary School in North English for 18 years, retiring in 2019. During this time, she took particular enjoyment in teaching her love of literature and writing. Her lessons always invoked thoughtful discussion and promoted historical perspective.

Betsy was also active and dedicated to her community.  She was a masterful piano player, taught piano lessons to local students for many years, and played for various church and community events. Along with her mother, Betsy led the United Methodist Church junior choir for many years and co-taught the nursery Sunday School class. She was a published writer, with articles appearing in The Gardener’s Companion and Church Educator Magazine. She was a member of the North English Public Library board for over 40 years, playing a crucial role in the planning and development of the new library in 1989.

In her personal life, Betsy took great pride in her immaculate gardens. Their farm, Green Gables, is known for its well-manicured lawn and gardens, white board fence, and lovely gazebo with perfect views of the sunset. Betsy also possessed a keen eye for detail and was known for hosting perfectly themed and decorated parties, often with a vintage flair.

A proud and lifelong Democrat, Betsy eventually found enjoyment in her involvement with the Iowa County Democrats. She supported local legislative candidates and excelled in writing skillful editorials for the local newspaper; her articles occasionally appearing in the Cedar Rapids Gazette. Betsy had an artful way of presenting a sometimes unpopular idea or opinion in a non-threatening and thought provoking manner- one which likely inspired many Iowa county residents to consider an alternate view on a controversial topic.

Above all, her greatest joy in life was her family. She treasured her children and their families, and the love they all shared. The past few years were filled with family showers, weddings, and birthdays, but her favorite moments could be found reading a book to the grand-babies, or watching the waves roll in on the beach with her family by her side. Although Betsy’s life was cut tragically short, her impact on this life will never be forgotten.

Betsy now joins her parents in heaven. She leaves behind her husband, Gary; children, Anne (Brad) Montana, John (Bhavana) Pilkington, and Mary (Jason) Less; grandchildren, Owen and Lauren Montana and Anna Less; and dearest sister, Mary (Kevin) Kunnert.

A Celebration of Life Service will be held at 10:00 am on Friday, August, 26, 2022 at the North English United Methodist Church. Visitation will be on Thursday from 3:00-7:00 pm at Powell Funeral Home in North English. Messages and tributes may be left at Memorials may be directed to the North English Public Library or the English Valleys Elementary School library.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Elizabeth "Betsy" Pilkington, please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

Past Services


Thursday, August 25, 2022

3:00 - 7:00 pm (Central time)

Powell Funeral Home-North English

116 West Broad St., North English, IA 52316

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Funeral Service

Friday, August 26, 2022

10:00 - 11:00 am (Central time)

North English United Methodist Church

218 W Oak St, North English, IA 52316

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