Bettylu Ross Hilton Scheer Dennis
AFRH-G Resident Highlight - Bettylu Ross Hilton Scheer Dennis
By Lori Kerns | Librarian
Bettylu Dennis was born in Aurora, Indiana. Her father was a WWI Navy veteran and worked as a chief engineer inspector of naval materials. His job required Bettylu’s family, which also consisted of her mother and two younger sisters, to move around the country. As a child, Bettylu began singing and performed in her first revue at the age of seven. She fondly remembers crying after the first night because she saw the older girls getting flowers and was hurt because she did not get any of her own. On the second night, she remembers her father coming up to the stage and presenting her with a bouquet of red roses.
As Bettylu got older and began college, the young man, Stu, she was dating went into the Navy to join the efforts in WWII. Six months later, against Stu’s wishes, Bettylu decided to sign up for the Navy WAVES. She was sent to Hunter College in New York for basic training. It did not take long before her commanding officer discovered her talent for singing. She was assigned to a four-person singing group that toured the country to support the recruitment efforts of the Navy. Bettylu “sang her way through the Navy” even after the recruitment efforts were completed. She performed with different bands and orchestras and was nationally broadcast on live radio. Her talents caught the eyes of many performers and arrangers such as Count Basie and a young Frank Sinatra. She has a great memory of singing “Summertime” with Count Basie, whom she recalls as one of the nicest artists she worked with. He asked her to return the next night but she already had plans for a screen test that had been arranged by Bing Crosby’s band director. Bettylu never made it to the screen test either. Stu, who she was still dating, asked her not to go because he feared Hollywood would corrupt her.
Bettylu and Stu eventually married and had two sons, Stu, Jr. and Robert. Once Stu finished the Navy, he became an FBI agent during the J. Edgar Hoover era. Stu’s career was demanding so Bettylu stayed home to raise the boys. Their two sons went on to have children of their own and have provided the couple with four grandchildren and six great-grandchildren. Stu passed away in 1999. About three years later, Bettylu decided to move to the Naval Home in Gulfport. This is where she met resident Byron Dennis. The two fell in love and married. They continued to live at the Home and is thankful that the Lord sent them to each other. Bettylu sadly lost her soulmate in 2014.
Bettylu stays active in AFRH-G by going to exercise classes, walking and socializing with her friends. She is a founding member of the Home’s Mardi Gras Krewe of NAMAC. She was also recognized as one of the “Calendar Girls” who raised over $20,000 for charity. Most recently, the beautiful and talented Bettylu reigned as the Krewe of NAMAC’s Queen for 2019.