A woman who took pleasure in her home, and especially her beautiful backyard, Erlene Belling, 88, of Edmond, OK, leaves a legacy of strength, work ethic, and wit for her two children, Carla Downing, of Oklahoma City, son Trae Downing of Sartell, MN, and granddaughter Nicole Downing of Eagan, MN.
Born near Haskell, OK, Erlene was the oldest of five children. She was smart and determined, and lived an interesting and fulfilling life. A beautiful young woman, Erlene became homecoming queen at Bagley High School in Tahlequah. Her parents were keen about education and moved their family from their dairy farm in the country to the town of Haskell. Her father wanted the children to have a more thorough education than they could get in the one-room schoolhouse where they started.
After graduating from Bagley High School, she went on to earn a bachelor’s degree and then a master’s degree. Erlene began her professional career by teaching third grade in Wichita, KS. After moving to Oklahoma City in 1963, she went to work for the Oklahoma State Department of Special Education. She loved her work with the state, saying it afforded her the opportunity to travel around the state as well as to other states in the country, meeting people and enjoying her relationships with them.
She was a great cook, and having grown up on a farm was happy to be able to share her talents with friends and family. Her backyard was a showplace, and a place where she babied her azaleas from Muskogee.
A lover of music, she and her husband Bill Howard enjoyed traveling to Branson, MO, to see Andy Williams perform. On one of their trips, Erlene and Bill were admiring the landscaping around Williams’ restaurant when Williams appeared and talked with Erlene at length about what he might plant, based on her expertise. The conversation was a highlight of her life. She loved crossword puzzles, home decorating, flower gardening, reading and travel.
Erlene was predeceased by her husband, Bill, of 30 years, her parents and her four siblings. The family would like to thank the caring staff of Accentra Hospice. In addition, we extend a heartfelt thanks to Danyelle Henderson who took compassionate and loving care of Erlene in her final years.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Susan G. Komen Foundation (ww5.Komen.org) or Calm Waters (www.calmwaters.org).
Private family services will be held at a later date.