Betty Jean Thomason, who taught home economics at Montgomery High School for a quarter century, died on March 12 after a short battle with breast cancer.

She was 75 years old.

Thomason, a devoted mother and grandmother, brought a maternal instinct to her work, said her daughter-in-law, Annette Thomason, who teaches chemistry at Montgomery High School in Santa Rosa.

"Kids that needed a place to call home, she gave that to them," she said. "She would find kids who needed her and take them under her wing."

Mike Thomason, Betty Jean's son, added that his mother ran into former students wherever she went.

At school, she assumed a huge workload, teaching multiple classes at once, including sewing, cooking and child care, Annette Thomason said.

She carried that educational instinct with her when she retired in 1992 and began focusing on caring for her two grandchildren.

"She was our daycare provider, and she always had projects for (our children)," Annette Thomason said, recalling that she came home one time to find her mother-in-law playing piano with her 6-month-old son.

Their son went on to be a talented musician, she said.

Mike and Annette Thomason both love to cook, and their daughter enjoys baking — affinities they say began with Betty Jean Thomason.

"She was a great lady, and she loved her grandkids more than anything," said Mike Thomason, of Petaluma.

Betty Jean Weathermon was born in Texas and grew up in Arkansas, where she attended Henderson State University.

While in school, she was named Miss Pike County. She also met her husband, Joe Thomason. They married in 1958.

The couple spent the early years of their marriage in Germany, where Joe Thomason was stationed in the Army.

In 1967, they moved to Sonoma County, looking for a place to settle down. Betty Jean Thomason started teaching at Montgomery High School almost right away, her son said.

She loved sewing, cooking, and anything to do with home economics, he said. She made his wife's wedding dress and his daughter's prom dress.

In addition to her son Mike Thomason, she is survived by her husband; her mother Ruby Weathermon and brother Don Weathermon, of San Antonio, Texas; and her grandchildren, Jay and Emma Thomason.

A memorial celebration is set for 2 p.m. April 5 at at her son's home in Petaluma. Anyone wishing to attend can email Mike Thomason for details at mthomason@keegancoppin.com.