Betty Halstead Gordon

Lewisburg-Betty Halstead Gordon, 95, passed away late Tuesday night, May 5, 2020, at Peyton Hospice House in Fairlea.

She was lovingly watched over by her granddaughters during her transition.

Betty was born Feb. 16, 1925, in Ironton, OH, the daughter of Ira R. and Peggie E. Halstead.

The family moved about during the Depression years, with Peggie teaching school and Ira working for the railroad, in the coal mines and delivering milk for a family dairy. Eventually the family moved to the Charleston, WV area, where they bought and managed a small restaurant. Later Ira found work with Union Carbide.

Betty graduated from South Charleston High School in South Charleston, worked at the Charleston Daily Mail, and briefly attended Marshall College before marrying her first husband, Richard D. Mackenzie during WWII. She was active in several service clubs in those years, and between the births of her children, she did photographic fashion modeling for an agency, where she also taught modeling classes. In early 1956, the family moved to southern California where she worked as a dental assistant and also held secretarial positions with corporate and private businesses, including as the personal secretary for the acclaimed author, Irving Wallace. She enjoyed a creative involvement with a local little theater group and performed in numerous plays.

In 1966, she married Alvin J. Gordon and moved to northern California, settling in Sonoma County. The Gordons shared a love of traveling the globe in their 22 years together. They resided variously in Tucson, AZ and Mexico, and back again to Sonoma. Betty’s life in Sonoma gave her opportunities for venturing into business enterprises. She started Arcus Publishing Company, and later opened a bookstore, called The Book Nook. After her husband’s death, she oversaw the management of El Paseo, a complex of several shops and restaurants in Sonoma, and maintained a position on the board of the Alexander Micklejohn Foundation, an educational scholarship fund established by her husband. Betty’s grandchildren were an important part of her life, and she took them on several trips across the country, which, to this day, are memorable events they all treasure. Her children also benefited from her generosity and love of world travel with each one given an opportunity to visit a country of their choice.

In 2001, Betty moved back to West Virginia with two of her daughters and a granddaughter to live on a farm property above the Greenbrier River near Ronceverte. She reconnected with her cousins at reunions at the old family farm in Ripley and continued to travel, enjoying educational tours to Alaska, China and Europe.

She was preceded in death by her parents; her brothers, Peter and Charles Halstead; her husband, Alvin J. Gordon; and her son, James Allen Mackenzie.

She is survived by her remaining four children, Peggy Mackenzie and Matthew Mackenzie, both of Ronceverte, Anne Mackenzie of Sonoma County, CA, and Elise Mackenzie Leef (Eric) of Clintonville. Betty also leaves four grandchildren, Alex Johnson (Pretzel) of Sonoma, CA, Jessamine Mackenzie of Charlotte, NC, Tyler Mackenzie (Dwayne) of Sacramento, CA, and Juliet Johnson of Ronceverte; and two great-grandchildren, Jade and Lex Johnson.

It was Betty’s wish to be cremated. A private memorial and interment will be held at a later date.

Online condolences to the family may be made at

more recommended stories