Meet Bettye Cotton, the American Legion greeter who brightens up any room with her smile and wit

Profiles introduces you to people in our community who are making a difference but don’t often make the headlines. This week we invite you to meet a fixture at Post 519 recently honored for her volunteer efforts.

For decades, Palm Springs American Legion Post 519 has been a welcoming venue for our service members, their families, and others. Thanks to Bettye Cotton, they don’t have to go far into the building to feel welcome.

Bettye is usually found behind the podium on Friday nights, where she greets people and checks their Legion membership cards. She also takes dinner reservations by phone during the week. You can find her on the dance floor as well — just listen for her laughter and look for her smile, which has been brightening up the room for the past 20 years.

“After my husband passed, it gave me a wonderful way to have a social life,” she said of her volunteer efforts at the Legion. “They treat me so nicely, they can’t get rid of me.” 

Last Monday, Bettye was one of six individuals recognized with a Community Service Award by the city’s Human Rights Commission.  We caught up with her before the ceremony. Get to know Bettye below.

Age: 93

Occupation: Former medical office manager

Neighborhood: Desert Park Estates

Years in the desert:  Full-time since 1991, but visiting since the 1960s.

What brought you here?  We had friends here and really enjoyed visiting. We were attracted to all the movie stars that lived here. They were all over town.

What keeps you here? It came to be my home. This is where I feel most comfortable.

Any family here? None now.

Favorite time of the year: I’m comfortable at any time. I love it all year. The Legion has brought me year-round friendships.

How do you beat the heat? I stay in my air-conditioned house, my air-conditioned car, and have fun in air-conditioned places.

Personal philosophy: Just be nice to people and make sure you never hurt anybody and hope that the favor is returned.

Favorite place to eat:  Billy Reed’s

Favorite place to go or thing to do:  I volunteer at the American Legion and have also been volunteering at the McCormick Auto Auction since the 1960s.

Guilty pleasure: White Zinfandel 

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