After founding a successful senior center and fulfilling her lifelong dream to run a dinner theater, a well-known face is leaving Johnson County.
The curtains closed at Miss Betty’s Dinner Theater for the last time in November. But its founder, 84-year-old Betty Davis, is not ready to stop working. Instead, she’s on to her next endeavor, leaving the county she’s grown to love for more than 30 years.
“I got an email from my daughter who lives in Vancouver, Washington who spotted a bed and breakfast for sale near Seattle and she said, ‘Why don’t you come out here and help me run this?’ So I said, ‘Sounds like a great plan, that’ll be my next project,’” Davis said.
In 1979, Davis founded the Greenwood Senior Center, which started as a small group that met weekly to enjoy a meal together. Now, nearly 40 years later, the center known as The Social of Greenwood has regularly scheduled activities, from classes to dinners, for those 50 and older.
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“The senior citizens center was a great accomplishment,” Davis said. “You don’t really know you’re doing something good until you hear from people you’re impacting.”
Davis remembers what she thought was a typical trip to the post office years back. But as she pulled up, a man she didn’t know approached her.
“He said to me, ‘You’re Miss Betty. I know about you and all you’ve done and I just want to say thank you.’” Davis said. “It really gives you chills when you hear that. It’s very comforting.”
Miss Betty was a name that stuck with Davis through all parts of the county, from Greenwood to Trafalgar, and it would later be the name of Davis’ lifelong dream.
For as long as she could remember, Davis had a passion for the performing arts and dreamed of one day opening a dinner theater. More than 15 years ago that dream became a reality when she opened Miss Betty’s Dinner Theater.
Located in Trafalgar, the theater provided musical and theatrical entertainment. Before the show, theater-goers could enjoy a buffet. From building the sets to cooking the food, Davis was the jack of all trades, spending countless hours at the theater.
“I didn’t intend to live in Trafalgar, but there was a space above my theater and so I moved up there so I could always be working,” Davis said.
For years, she ran the senior center, and the theater and didn’t have time for much else. When she retired from the senior center, she joined the Trafalgar Town Council and has served for about six years.
“When the opening showed up, I thought it was time for me to give back,” Davis said. “The people had been really wonderful to me here and I had the business knowledge.”
Born a Texan, Davis moved to the Hoosier state in the late ’50s after marrying a man from Indiana. Together they had three children and endless Indiana memories. But now, some 60 years later, it’s time to create memories elsewhere, she said.
“I’m 84, but I’m not done yet because you cannot stop doing whatever you still have to do and whatever you still want to do,” Davis said. “I have been blessed by the Johnson County people. I love them, I appreciate them and I’m so thankful for their support and friendship.”