Memorial services planned for O'Fallon police chief

News-DemocratSeptember 23, 2013 

Memorial arrangements for longtime O'Fallon Police Chief John F. Betten II have been announced.

Betten, 54, died at his O'Fallon home Sunday afternoon after a four-year battle with cancer. He was with his family.

The cancer diagnosis four years ago predicted he had 4 to 6 months to live.

"He made it four years and it was just because he wanted to be here for his family and his community," said Betten's wife, Anne Betten. "He wasn't going to take that diagnosis. He was still living his life to the fullest, he was still refereeing football games and doing everything he always did. He had no regrets. He said he felt like he had been fortunate enough live a full life for 54 years and appreciated the time he had with his family and friends."

A memorial visitation for Betten will be held from 2 to 8 p.m. Friday at the Kassly Mortuary at 9900 St. Clair Ave. in Fairview Heights.

A memorial service will be held at 1:30 p.m. Saturday at the O'Fallon Township High School-Milburn Campus auditorium at 650 Milburn School Road in O'Fallon.

Betten served as O'Fallon's police chief for more than a decade and before that, served with the Fairview Heights Police Department for 18 years and was active with the Southern Illinois Chiefs of Police.

He is survived by his wife and three children, John III, 22, Elizabeth, 24, and Laura, 26.

"He was an amazing husband and father; his kids always came first," Anne Betten said. "He was a wonderful example of what a man should be. He was just an amazing, kind, loving man and he's going to be missed. As sad as it is, we feel lucky we had the time we did. We are so proud to be his wife and children."

Anne said Betten knew at age 2 that he wanted to be a police officer, and he pursued that dream his entire life. For 17 years he taught future officers at the police academy at Southwestern Illinois College.

He was also on the board of the Major Case Squad, graduated from the FBI National Academy and attended the traffic institute at Northwestern Illinois University and earned a master's degree in public administration. In his spare time, he refereed football games throughout the region and volunteered wherever volunteers were needed, Anne Betten added.

"He was proud to be the chief of O'Fallon," she said. "Work was never work for him, it was just part of what he did. He loved his job and the community and serving and he loved being a public servant."

Betten loved to travel, and between the time of his diagnosis and his death, he was able to make three trips to Europe with his family.

Mascoutah Police Chief Bruce Fleshren graduated from Belleville West High School with Betten in 1977 and the men remained close friends for more than 40 years.

"He was a heck of a guy that had more friends than you could probably imagine," Fleshren said. "Many called him best friend and a good friend. He was a great father, a good man and a great mentor. It is a tremendous loss for the community, and an even bigger loss for his friends and family."

Fleshren said Betten probably wouldn't care for all the attention his death has garnered.

"He was a very humble man, he would not have liked all the pomp and circumstance," he said. "He liked to do the job quietly and effectively."

The family is asking donations be made to Backstoppers Inc. in lieu of flowers.

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