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Remembering Betty

Posted: March 30, 2009 12:49 a.m.
Updated: March 30, 2009 4:55 a.m.

Dalpho Brazil holds a sweater her daughter Betty (in a high school senior photo by her chair) gave her as a birthday gift in 1961. Betty was killed Sept. 2, 1966, in the parking lot of Bob's Big Boy in Lakewood.

Dalpho Brazil still clings to the sweater her daughter Betty Brazil bought in 1961.

"I usually wear it for church and family reunions," Dalpho said, as she clutched the heirloom close.

The blue sweater is one of the few physical things Dalpho has left of her daughter Betty, who was killed Sept. 2, 1966, in the parking lot of Bob's Big Boy in Lakewood. Betty Brazil was 21 years old.

Her death was initially deemed a suicide, and it remained under that classification until the case was reopened and the Los Angeles County Coroner's Office changed the cause of death in December 2008.

The blue sweater with the flower embroidery rekindles memories of Betty's youth growing up in the Santa Clarita Valley.

"She bought this sweater at Hubbard's in Newhall," Dalpho said. Betty saved up her money earned at William's Drug Store to buy her mother the sweater, Dalpho said.

Neither store now exists.

Betty Sue Brazil was born March 20, 1945, the oldest of three girls and a boy born to James and Dalpho Brazil.

The Brazil family moved to the Santa Clarita Valley in 1943. Dalpho marks the difference between the SCV then and now.
"There was nothing out here. And I like it much better that way," Dalpho said.

The family leaned on each other for support and friendship, said Sharon Gibbs, Betty's sister. The bonds strengthened through poverty and hard time, she said.

"Mom made our clothes and we lived out of a tent by where the (Valencia) Industrial Complex is now," Gibbs said.

The Brazil family eventually moved into a house on Drayton Street, and they never let what they didn't have keep them from celebrating what they did have, Dalpho said.

"After Betty got her driver's license she would take me and the kids shopping," Dalpho said. "It was a treat going to J.C. Penney's to buy clothing and yardage to make the girls dresses."

The family packed in the car and drove to the closest J.C. Penney, which was in San Fernando, Dalpho said.

Betty graduated in 1962 near the top of the class at William S. Hart High School, with some help from her mother.

"Betty struggle with math and math was my favorite subject," Dalpho said. She tutored Betty, who returned the favor to her younger sister Lenora, who struggled with a lisp.

"Every time Lollie (Lenora) said anything with that lisp Betty would correct it," Dalpho said. "She taught Lollie how to move her tongue correctly to say the words the right way."

Being the oldest meant Betty often helped with all the children.

"It was just like her. She loved to help people and she was like a second mother," Gibbs said.

The investigation into Betty's murder is still an open case with workable leads, said Bob Waschmuth, Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department homicide investigator.

Sheriff's officials ask anyone with information about Brazil's death to call Homicide Lt. Paul Becker at (323) 890-5500.


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