This week, I’m pausing my discussion on county histories to remember a friend with a shared love of genealogy that we lost too soon.
My good friend and genealogy buddy, Annette Sands Botello died on 17 November 2022 at about 1:30 in the morning. I was able to visit her on the 16th in her hospice bed. She was not really “there” though she looked at me once, accidentally kicked me when she moved her leg and she uttered a “sorry,” and smiled occasionally as I chatted with her husband Ys about good times we’ve had and our fond memories. It was only about four weeks between diagnosis and her death. It was quite sudden and none of us were prepared for it.
Annette and I took a couple of genealogy trips together, usually to the Family History Library in Salt Lake City. We would research all day, take a sack lunch to eat outdoors in the beautiful gardens of Temple Square, and work on our findings in our room at night. One time, we went to Charleston, South Carolina for an NGS Conference. One afternoon we played hooky and took a little drive to visit some ancestral lands of some folks she was researching. We also stopped at a beach and put our toes in the ocean.
Annette was very passionate about her family history. She gave several fantastic presentations here in Colorado, usually case studies on the work she’d done with her ancestors. She facilitated a Mexico genealogy group in Denver and helped many learn how to work on their genealogy. She always had time to meet up at a coffee shop and talk genealogy. Most recently we met up at Starbucks on a warm summer day and she shared with me her plan for an upcoming trip to West Virginia to meet up with many cousins she hadn’t seen in a long time. She really wanted to find a particular cemetery and conducted all of this research in old and modern maps to locate it. She had a fantastic trip and shared her stories with our little genealogy group when she returned.
I met Annette near the same time I met Birdie Holsclaw. Most of us attended the Boulder Genealogical Society. Denise Miller wanted to start a “support group” for those of us interested in getting our genealogy certification. Our group consisted of Birdie, Denise, Annette, Deb Skoff, and Ruth Ratliff. We met about once per month at a little local coffee shop. We did that until I moved to Texas for a while. During that time we tried to do Skype calls but it was too noisy in the coffee shop and the internet wasn’t great so it was a bit frustrating for myself to try to attend remotely. Then came the pandemic and we all started meeting on Zoom and our group was restored! It may be the only great thing that came out of the pandemic, me getting to meet with these ladies on the regular again!
I know for a fact that Annette was not “done” with her genealogy, nor was it in a state to be left for others to pick up. She was always working on it. She always had plans for more. And she thought she had more time. I am taking this as a sign that I need to get my genealogical affairs in order so that if the end came suddenly for me, all of my hard work would be in a reasonable state for someone else to take over or benefit from the work I’d done.
Annette hasn’t only been a genealogy friend. Her family has been so welcoming to my family over the years. Her husband Ys helped my son one school year with his math class when he did homeschooling. My son was not really a math person and having someone other than mom help him with a difficult subject seemed to do the trick. I’m forever grateful for Ys helping us through that year of school! When we moved back to Colorado in August 2020, we moved in two stages. Our daughter Ellie and I came to Colorado so she could get started in school while my husband stayed behind in Texas to get the house ready to sell and to pack up the remainder of our stuff. We lived in a rental for the first part and we kept our lawn mower in Texas so Seth could keep the yard looking nice. Ys kindly came once a week to lend his mower and his labor to help us keep the rental house lawn mowed until Seth got there. I got to know their daughters and have watched them grow from young teens into fine young women each with their own interesting path, yet always a close and loving family. It was a real blessing to have the Botellos in our lives. As they move into this new phase of their lives, I can only imagine the hole they must feel without Annette by their sides. And I know they all had a very strong faith and know she is in a better place.
I just imagine her hanging out with Birdie again, taking genealogy and movies and technology, and it makes me smile.
You will be missed, Annette.
There is a fundraiser to help the family with expenses, if you are so inclined.