Betty Ann Bellande-Toland came into the world on October 4, 1946, the third child of Alton L. Bellande and Hazel Marie Bonnette. Like most Biloxi natives of her generation, her nascence was celebrated at the 1929 Biloxi Hospital opposite Deer Island. She passed on November 29, 2022 at Merit Health Biloxi following a severe brain injury resulting from a domestic accident.
Like her siblings Betty attended St. John’s Catholic elementary school and was a 1964 graduate of Biloxi Senior High School. Matriculating to the “W” in Columbus, Mississippi, Betty received her degree in elementary education in 1968. She found employment with the Biloxi School District teaching at Gorenflo Elementary situated in her old neighborhood on Lameuse Street. In the 1970s, Betty had the pleasure of being among the first, Biloxi educators to assist in the primary education of the children of our initial Vietnamese refugees.
Betty returned to Mississippi State College for Women to study interior design. In 1982, while on a job interview in Lafayette, Louisiana, she was critically injured in an automobile accident requiring almost a year of her life in recovery and rehabilitation. Betty then returned to teaching art in the Biloxi school system retiring after over thirty years of service. She had completed an MFA at William Carey College [Gulfport] prior to Katrina.
In retirement Betty made several visits to Europe, especially enjoying the great art museums of that continent and the ambiance of Provence and Tuscany. She had also resided in Taiwan for several years sharing her English knowledge with the local school children.
Betty loved God, her family and friends, and was a Carnival aficionado. Her memberships included: Billikens, Revelers, and Hera. She worshiped at Our Lady of Fatima Catholic Church and sang in the choir. She was also involved in the Red Hat Society and enjoyed gardening, walking and an afternoon of bridge and coffee. Betty inherited her mother’s culinary skills that had been honed in the southwest Louisiana Creole and Acadian cultures.
Betty will be remembered for her intelligence, loyalty, arts and crafts talent, love of learning and teaching, and sharp wit and sense of humor. She is survived by John William ‘Bill’ Toland, her spouse of 34 years; siblings, Ray L. Bellande of Ocean Spring, Mickey J. Bellande of Biloxi, Dr. Bruce J. Bellande (Mary Betsy Bryant) of Oxford, and Roy A. Bellande (Nancy Authur) of Lucedale; and nephews and nieces, Hazel Marie Bellande of Gulfport and son, Corbin Bellande, Mary Elizabeth Smith (Blake) and sons Austin and Dylan of Little Rock, Arkansas, and Christopher Bruce Bellande (Laura), and son Henry of Chevy Chase, Maryland.
In lieu of flowers, memorial donations can be made to Our Lady of Fatima Catholic Church in Biloxi or the Ohr-O’Keefe Museum of Art in Biloxi.
A Memorial Mass will be held at Our Lady of Fatima Catholic Church on Saturday, December 3, 2022 at 11:00 am. Friends may visit from 10:00 am until Mass time.
Bradford-O’Keefe Funeral Home is honored to serve the Toland family.