Greg Srb likes to say his mother saved his life.
During a trip to the family cabin near Bellwood, Greg, then about 5 years old, fell into the Platte River. Betty Srb, fully clothed with her ubiquitous sunglasses pinned to her hair, jumped in and rescued her youngest son.
“She had a habit of taking her sunglasses and sticking them in her hair. I remember she went looking for the sunglasses after jumping in and they were still sticking there,” Greg said. “She saved my life.”
Betty, a longtime nurse known for her caring and loving personality, died of COVID-19 at a Lincoln nursing home in November at age 95.
Greg, who lives in Lincoln, said he was glad that he was able to help take care of his mother at the end of her life after she helped save his when he was younger.
Betty was born in Clatonia in 1925. She graduated from the Cadet nursing program at Lincoln General Hospital near the end of World War II and went on to work at Lincoln General and the local VA clinic.
“She was a caring person, rather private, not real outgoing, a really caring person,” said Tom Srb, Betty’s oldest son who lives in Texas. “The whole COVID-19 thing is very sad, that people have to pass alone like that, that families are unable to visit them.”
Her sons said Betty loved to collect carnival glass. She was also an avid angler who taught them how to find their own bait and hunt nightcrawlers.
The last Christmas they were able to celebrate in person, in 2019, Greg remembers painting his mother’s nails.
When the pandemic hit, in-person visits at nursing homes halted. So Greg would FaceTime his mother, calling her once a week to visit.
When it came time to say goodbye, her sons were able to FaceTime one last time.
“That was really important,” Greg said. “I felt sorry for the nurses because you could just tell the drain on their faces because so many people were dying. It was hard not to be with her, but I’m also thankful to do what we did.”
— Zach Hammack