Cover photo for Betty Rhea's Obituary
Betty Rhea Profile Photo
1938 Betty 2021

Betty Rhea

March 8, 1938 — December 17, 2021

Betty Rhea was born to John Edward Choice and Sadie Elizabeth Choice on March 8, 1938, in Denver, Colorado.  Betty was the second born of six children, John Choice, Ben Choice, June Choice, Bobby Choice, and Jack Choice.  Betty and her family resided on 2944 California Street where she and her siblings established lifelong friendships with neighboring families.

As a child, Betty attended Gilpin Elementary.  She graduated from Manual High School in 1956, then went on to attend Denver University.  As a young adult, she was a member of the Metro Denver Epicurean Society.

In 1960, she moved to New York City to begin a career as a freelance writer and artist.  While in New York, she studied theater arts and creative writing.  She wrote poetry and created content for local magazines.

While in Harlem she reunited with Earnest Dunkley whom she previously met in Colorado.  From this union came her first born, Douglas Paul.  She would later marry Sidney Rhea of Brooklyn, NY and give birth to two children, Sheryl Louise and John Earl.

Upon her return to her hometown, she resumed her matriculation at the University of Denver and would later graduate with honors from Metropolitan State University.  In 1996, Betty was inducted into Sigma Tau Delta International English Honors Society.  In the early 1970’s Betty worked with the Denver Model Cities Program where her focus was on developing opportunities for the urban community.  During the seventies and eighties, she was involved in Denver’s Black Theater movement and was a supporter of the Eulipion Theater Group.

She was the Director of Theatre Arts and Creative Writing at the Forum Center for the Arts, located at 1570 Gilpin Street.  In 1976, she established the Creathon Theatre Group via a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.  The Forum and the Creathon Theatre Group provided writing workshops and theatric training to adults and afterschool classes in visual arts, acting, dance, and stage carpentry to inner city youth.  She directed and performed theatric plays at local theaters, including Bonfils Theater.

An activist at heart, Betty dedicated most of her life to the upliftment and advancement of her people.  She would always bless us with knowledge of our history and would provide guidance and direction for a brighter future.  Most of her work with the Denver Model Cities Program was geared toward the rise and progress of the Denver community. She was always focused on the betterment of us.

Betty Rhea received special recognition for her work as an educator with the Denver Public School system for engaging families and children in reading and writing programs.  She also worked closely with community centered programs such as Clayton College, Agape Day Shelter and Red Shield. Bettys writing efforts included a poem published in Essence Magazine, three novels submitted for publication, one screenplay on the life of Malcolm X.  Betty had an entrepreneurial spirit and was willing to learn jewelry making, wax sculpting, ceramics and bead making to create things she wanted to sell such as coffee table decor and wall décor.

Her most cherished possession was her library.  Betty’s book collection consisted of over 4,000 books featuring authors such as, Ezra Keats, James Baldwin, Alice Walker, Ernest Gaines, Isabel Allende, Amy Tan, Albert Nitschke, Richard Wright, Toni Morrison, and Philip Roth.  A quick glance around her home, you will see several bookcases along with paintings by Gorman, and African artifacts which together tell her story.  Beyond her love for books, making and collecting jewelry was her life’s passion.  She had a particular fondness for vintage and Afrocentric jewelry.  Above all, she loved silver and turquoise jewelry.

Betty’s friends meant the world to her.  She grew up with the Green family, Mary (RIP), Pearl, Leroy (RIP), Ophelia, Anna Mae, Annie Wise; the Rowlette family, Benjamin, Vernon, Cheryl, and Jewel, the Delgaldo family, Patsy, Ricky, Becky, Bonnie and Sonny, the Shorty family, Joyce, Jean, Margret, Marsha; Ruby Dotson, Norma Bryant, and Gloria Hudson.   Over the years she developed close friendships with Orville Springs, Mildred Pitts Walter, Isetta Rawls, Shirley Sims, Jamie Byrd, Hiawatha Davis, Frances Tankersly, Barbara Reid, Sheely Rheim, Jerry Stevens, Mary Lee, Mary Jane Hawkins, Gloria Griffin, Clara Barnett, Irene Burks, Gwen Burks and many others.

Betty Rhea is survived by her three children, Douglas, Sheryl and John, her grandchildren, Taja, Tiyana, Bryan, Zoe, Tai and Kimara, and one great grandchild Niemah.  She is survived by her brothers, John, Ben, and Jack.  Her siblings blessed her with a great number of wonderful nieces and nephews, which include: Deborah, Terry (RIP), Linda, Louis, Michael and Melvin Dixon; Myelin, Peter, Anthony and Mark Choice; Andrea, Lisa, Donald, Terrance (RIP), Darrin, and Brandon Choice; Leslie, Elisha and Lilaana Choice, Sarah, Tracey Hairston (Choice), Naima and Wayne Rhea.  She had wonderful sister-in-laws whom she loved dearly, Carrol Choice, Denise Choice (RIP), Edwina Choice, Jimmie Rae Choice (RIP), Lynn Choice, Mildred Leverette (Rhea).

Betty Rhea was a mentor to many.  She was Aunt Betty to great and grand nieces and nephews: Juneka, DaVonna, Akeem, Harrison (RIP), Mickey (RIP), Charise, Torrey, Demisha, and many more.   She was Grandma Betty and Miss Betty to, Vinita Tramble (RIP), Dejantae and Tammy Tramble; Nadirah, Alex, Tahani, Kemettisara, Nazaar, Vizer and Sheherazaad Luqman; Lonnie and Heru Byrd, Mattie and Jaden Williams, Michael Edwards, Marv Johnson, Damon Trotter, Maria Johnson, and Angela Graves.

Betty would often say, “Tomorrow will tell today…we own today’s actions and tomorrow will show us the truth of our actions.”

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Service Schedule

Past Services

Visitation

Tuesday, January 4, 2022

4:00 - 6:00 pm (Mountain time)

Pipkin Braswell Serenity Chapel

6601 E Colfax Ave, Denver, CO 80220

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Celebration of Life

Wednesday, January 5, 2022

Starts at 11:00 am (Mountain time)

Pipkin Braswell Chapel of Peace (Denver)

CO

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Graveside Service

Wednesday, January 5, 2022

Starts at 2:00 pm (Mountain time)

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Reception

Wednesday, January 5, 2022

Starts at 3:00 pm (Mountain time)

Pipkin Braswell Serenity Chapel

6601 E Colfax Ave, Denver, CO 80220

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Guestbook

Visits: 14

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