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Caton, Betty A.

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October 13, 1941 - February 26, 2015

Caton, Betty A.

Hon. Betty A. Caton

October 13, 1941 – February 26, 2015

Hon. Betty Ann Caton (“Missy” to her closest friends and family), age 73, departed this life on February 26, 2015 in McKinney, Collin County, Texas leaving a legacy of service and an abundance of loving family and friends.

Judge Caton was born October 13, 1941 in Wichita Falls, Texas to Cecil P. Thurlkill and Betty Sue Minnich Thurlkill. She was raised in Archer City, Texas, where she graduated from High School in 1959, later finishing her B.A. at NTSU in 1972 and her J.D. at SMU in 1974. She was a well-respected practicing attorney in Collin County and was appointed by Gov. George W. Bush in 1997 to serve as presiding judge for the 296th District Court, after which she was continuously reelected without opposition. She served the citizens of Collin County until her retirement on Dec. 31, 2006. Judge Caton brought to the bench both wise consideration and efficiency, never failing to appreciate the impact that her decisions could have on individual lives and on the community as a whole.

Over the years she served numerous organizations in leadership positions, including the Wylie I.S.D. School Board, Collin County Child Welfare Board, Collin County Purchasing Board, Collin County Juvenile Board, and Collin County Bar Association. She was a Sustaining Life Fellow of the Texas Bar Foundation and a Charter Life Fellow and Founding Director of the Collin County Bench/Bar Foundation. She was a supporter of CASA and Leadership McKinney, and a generous donor, often anonymously, to local organizations that lend assistance to women and children in need. Judge Caton gave generously of her time, her talent and her resources.

A career of service did not detract from her primary roles as a loving and devoted Mother, Grandmother, step-mother, mother-in-law, wife and friend. One child, J. David Caton predeceased her. She is survived by three children: Karen C. Caton, Mark T. Caton and Abbie Acklin Johnson; five grandchildren: Cate Cathey, Matthew Caton, Sarah Caton, Jordan Acklin and Ryker Johnson; one brother: Tommy C. Thurlkill; and one aunt: Lynette Robinson. Judge Caton’s sense of family was broad, and her affection fully embraced those who joined the family along the way: Twyla Caton, Caron Peck, Mike Johnson, Mary Thurlkill, Candy and Gary Riddle, Debbie and Phil Martin, Amanda Bhuket, Joy Acklin, and the grandchildren that came to her through her step-children.

Judge Caton’s life reflected her belief that education, hard work, friendship, and generosity were central to a good life. She took time to appreciate the beauty and elegance found in nature, people and life itself. She was quick to explore and learn, and she was grateful for life’s abundance. Many times over the years she looked down at her hands and reflected about how fortunate she was for hands that could cook, garden, wield a tool, paint, sew, turn the pages of a great book, or simply reach out to another person.

For her, losing use of her hands was the hardest part of having ALS, which was a part of her life for over five years. Still, she faced her illness the same way she lived her life – with strength, character, tenacity, ingenuity, determination and grace. Even after she was unable to leave her home, she was blessed to enjoy constant visits from family and friends – visits that filled the house with conversation, laugher, ideas and affection. Those visits gave delightful content to what otherwise might have been long days, and she was grateful — constantly affirming how blessed she was to have such wonderful friends and family. Their devotion to her was certainly a reflection of her own investment in others over the years. Whether as Judge Caton, Betty, Mom, Mamaw or Missy, she always sought to live right and give first. With a servant’s heart she came into this world, and she blessed many, many fellow travelers along the way.

There will be no formal service. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to the Caton Endowment with the McKinney Education Foundation (

The family gives special thanks and acknowledgment to Amity Hospice, who gave exceptional care and support.


Please send the family condolences and sign the guest book on this site.

Arrangements are under the direction of:
Aria Cremation Service & Funeral Home
1820 N. Belt Line Road
Irving, Texas 75061

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Richard Robison, Lt. Col, USAF Retired

August 24, 2018 12:24AM

Dear Karen, I just discovered the passing of your Mother, Hon Betty Ann (Missy) Caton. Betty took me on as a Client in a custody dispute from 1988 thru 1991. As a single father fighting to gain custody of my two sons, Betty believed in me when most others would not take the case. At that time the case was in Hon Sue Holland court. I got to meet you several times. She won the case for me and I received custody, she never backed down!

There is not week that I do not think about the honorable and forthright manner that Betty set the standard of judicial intergrity she displayed. She won my heart and most deep respect and I know now that there is a Heaven, because that is were she now is and making a difference. I have tears in my eyes for the loss of such a lovely person as she was, In 2006, I called Laura, in the hopes of getting a few moments of time with Betty to reconnect with her and to express just how much her support meant but was told she was to seeing anyone. I regret not being able to express to her in person just how much she was my Hero.

I wish you well and continued success.

My Very Best Regards,

Richard (Robbie) Robison
Lt. Col, USAF Retired
[email protected]

Kay trussell

March 19, 2015 7:19PM

sell I knew Betty caton, what an awesome person, big shoes to fill for all of us. Abby is the family member I know best. Abby I love you all these years. I'm proud of you and I know your mother was too. You have accomplished a lot yourself and I know you have a wonderful family of your own. I love you and I'm here for you always. Kay Trussell

michael sloan

March 09, 2015 8:54AM

I had the honor of working with Betty on one of her cases and trying her first jury trial. She had a wonderful personality and was always a ray of sunshine.


March 04, 2015 11:31PM

I went to school and church with Missy in Archer City. She was at our house many times when she was growing up. She will be missed by many, but Heaven gained a good woman and friend. Just ole Brent

J.B. Smith

March 04, 2015 11:04AM

I knew Missy in school at Archer and always thought she was a special friend. She was this same type of person all through her life. I was lucky to keep up with her through friends and contacts at our class reunions. She was one of those special people you have the pleasure to know in life. I considered myself blessed to have known her.

Michele Walters

March 04, 2015 12:30AM

A woman full of dignity, grace, honesty, and wisdom, all gifts she freely shared.
She will be missed.

Mickey Tryon

March 03, 2015 12:31AM

Karen, your mother must have been quite a lady ... my thoughts are with you and your family ...

Debbie Tyson

March 02, 2015 11:18PM

Dear Karen, Mark and Abbie,

How very blessed you were to have a mother in Missy. What a class act. I will never know how she juggled all her responsibilities and relationships and yet made them all seem like pure joy. She had to endure some terrible heartaches, but always had a smile to give someone. I always felt nothing less than overwhelming admiration, respect and great affection for this amazing lady. When I heard this news, I cannot express the saddness and emptiness I felt. While I had not seen or talked to her in quite some time,she impacted my life for years, beginning at the impressionable age of thirteen. My heart will always feel a little emptier knowing she is not within reach....for now. I want you all and the entire family to know you will remain in my prayers in the days to come. May God bless and comfort you all.
With love,

Mary Ann Beaty

March 02, 2015 9:55PM

Judge Caton was a pleasure to work with as opposing counsel in several of my family law matters, and I have a fond memory of her commenting to our respective clients in one case that they could have bought two of the items in dispute for the attorneys fees they were spending in the argument. I respected her service on the bench and had the pleasure of being before her a number of time and the further pleasure of her serving as mediator in a number of my cases. She will be sorely missed.

Gowdy Slack

March 02, 2015 8:05PM

Missy moved to Archer in the third grade and I fell instantly in love. When I heard she died, it brought a tear to my eyes.

Ina Adams Tabor

March 02, 2015 4:28PM

I grew up with Missy in Archer City, Texas. She was a year behind me,but moved up a year after she married Jim Caton and graduated with my class and me in 1959. I so admired her because she was so dedicated to finishing her education. she drove some distance every day to UNT, while raising five children, to earn her degree.She was a lovely person, kind, friendly, always ready to help someone, determined to complete what she started. She accomplished much and had much 0f which to be proud.She was a loyal friend and though I didn't see her very often, I looked forward to seeing her at Homecoming and Class reunions. I was so sorry to hear of her illness and passing. I will miss her and her sweet smile.I am praying for grace and comfort for her entire family. May God wrap you in his loving arms and comfort you as only he can. God bless each of you. Ina Tabor

Logan Odeneal

March 02, 2015 4:20PM

Judge Caton was a class act all the way, as an attorney, as a Judge, and as a Mediator. She will be missed by all who knew her. May God bless the family in this time of loss.

Larry Ackels

March 02, 2015 4:08PM

Betty and I were classmates at SMU Law School. She was a delightful person and a good friend. She never stopped fighting the good fight. May our Heavenly Father ease your grief and leave only the cherished memories of her loving ways. And may the angels lead her into paradise. Larry Ackels, Dallas TX

Steven Bruneman

March 02, 2015 3:22PM

Integrity of the highest level, dignity, and grace are what come to mind when I think of Judge Betty Caton. I loved practicing law before her, and visiting with her in chambers. She was the best of the best. I am deeply saddened by her passing; she will be missed.

Diane Snyder

March 02, 2015 3:15PM

Always a lady, always compassionate and always to be admired. A life well lived. My condolences to her family.

Leslie Martin

March 02, 2015 3:04PM

I was shocked and saddened to learn of Judge Caton's passing. She was as wise as she was intelligent and brought a no non-sense demeanor to the bench and to her mediation practice. Prayers for her family for such a great loss.

Ike Vanden Eykel

March 02, 2015 2:58PM

Betty was truly a distinguished individual and will be missed by all who knew her. I am proud to have been her friend. She brought honor to our profession.

Lee Cathey

March 02, 2015 11:51AM

“His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’

None I know will receive that praise more truly.

Lisa Gonzalez

March 02, 2015 10:36AM

My heart is heavy with the news of Judge Caton's passing. I was lucky as a prosecutor to have been assigned to her court and she was a wonderful role model. Even during times of personal difficulty she was poised and professional. I am certain that she handled ALS with the same poise and dignity. I feel lucky to have had the opportunity to have worked with her and her friendship. She will be missed.

Morgan Powell

March 02, 2015 8:22AM

Such very sad news. I was a few years ahead of Missy at ACHS but was very much aware of the exceptional and lively young woman who was to have an impressive career. I feel especially sorrowful for my friends Tommy and Mary, as well as other family members. My heart is with you.

Margie Martin Finnell

February 28, 2015 8:42PM

i am sorry to hear of Missy's passing. I knew her in Jr. High and High School in Archer City, Tx. I remember her in band. Missy represented me in court three times. She did a very good job, and never charged a dime for her services. I will always love her for that. God bless Missy, her family and friends.

Penny Wofford

February 28, 2015 6:54PM

When I think of Missy, I remember hot Texas summers and two little girls day dreaming about boys, growing up to be fine ladies. which you certainly did. You were a good friend to many aqnd the world will miss you.

Penny Roberts Wofford

February 28, 2015 6:45PM

Two little girls, giggling, talking about boys and wishing It wasn't such a long time to wait to be grown! So much fun You were always sweet and funny and a great friend.

Lynn Dele Adams Mills

February 28, 2015 6:12PM

So Sorry to hear of Missy's passing. Her Archer City friends will miss her dearly. A lovely accomplished woman dear to so many. Many condolences to all the family.

Troy Ripple

February 28, 2015 5:24PM

My prayers and condolences go out to Karen and all her Family. Ms. Caton was a wonderful lady and will be missed by all She touched over the years. God Bless.

lalanii Poteet

February 28, 2015 4:33PM

Missy was a fine lady in both person and business and great friend. A real first class person who will be missed.

Morris & Gail Ripple and family

Besia Green

February 28, 2015 4:31PM

i am deeply saddened by Missy's death. All of her family is dear to me. She was quite a lady and made sure she held her head up high. Although, I didn't see her often. I knew she was my friend.

Karen Sportsman Taylor

February 28, 2015 4:09PM

So sorry to hear this. She and my parents had a great relationship, and they thought so highly of her. Now she is healed and happy. I am sure she fought ALS with dignity. Hugs to you all.

Dian Turner

February 28, 2015 4:05PM

A beautiful obituary for a woman I admired and respected from the first day I met her. She always had a twinkle in her eye and looked for the best in everyone. Missy will be missed by all who knew her. My prayers and heart are with the family.

Malena Martin Gough

February 28, 2015 2:33PM

I have many memories of growing up in Archer City with Missy. She was a couple of years behind me in school, but we were friends. She was an extraordinary girl, and she was an extraordinary woman. I send my sincere condolences and prayers. May the God of All Comfort hold you close through the coming days.

Earnest Lynn Wright

February 28, 2015 2:07PM

Such sad news. I grew up with Missy in Archer City, and she was one of my first girlfriends, she was such a cute little thing, but I was always a gentleman, mostly because I was afraid Tommy would beat me up. Several parties at her house with spin the bottle, was a thrill when she would select me to "walk around the outside of the house with her."

I reconnected with her several years ago and she told me a funny story about her first case after being appointed as a judge. She was known as Betty, but apparently the bailiff called her Missy, so upon her taking the bench for the very first time, the bailiff calls out: "All rise for The Honorable Judge Missy Caton." She told him that her name was BETTY, and I'm betting he never made that mistake again. She didn't think Missy was appropriate for a judge. She was right.

One of the good ones has left us much too early.

Blessed be the family in your time of grief.

Freta Smith Villanueva

February 28, 2015 1:34PM

Your sweet mother's passing is bittersweet for me, as I know it is much more so for each of you. Bitter because she was such an accomplished, beautiful and graceful lady who is no more with us, yet sweet because she gave so much of herself to all who knew her, living on through all of us and because she successfully fought her last fight, and now can add, "Victor over ALS" to her long list of accomplishments. Love to all of the family, always,

Jane hall

February 28, 2015 10:59AM

Dear karen : I heard with great sadness of the loss of your mother. I never had the opportunity to meet her but I learned of her talents and kindness through our mutual friend Dian turner. Bless you and your family. I am so sorry for your loss

Much love, jane

Kathy Kennedy

February 28, 2015 9:37AM

My mother got ALS when she was 88 and it is a devastating disease. I am sure Judge Caton fought and met this disease head on with grace, dignity, and with her indominatable spirit. The same way she approached being a Judge and life in general - she will be sorely missed but leaves a wonderful legacy.

Negin Toosi

February 28, 2015 9:18AM

What a loss. Our condolences to you all - she was such an amazing inspiring person and made such a difference in the lives of so many. With heartfelt prayers for her soul's flight and for her beloved family members, the Toosi family

Kay Ross

February 28, 2015 1:07AM

Karen, My deepest sympathy to your family. She was a lovely lady and I pray you are all feeling Gods love and comfort during this time of sorrow.

melody gann

February 28, 2015 12:11AM

I met Karen's mom at the bridge table in Arlington. She was very gracious and gave no evidence of her illness. My deepest condolences for your loss. I'm sure many will miss her giving heart.

Karen (Crist) Santiago

February 27, 2015 10:42PM

Karen- my deepest sympathy. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family. May the Lord comfort you and strengthen you.

Mark and Sandy Dickerson

February 27, 2015 10:28PM

Peace be with you and your family during your homecoming.

Ron and Judy stone

February 27, 2015 10:19PM

our thoughts and prayers are with the family at this time.

allison turner

February 27, 2015 9:39PM

My heart is with yall during this time ! Sending my love !

Mary Kirby Jones

February 27, 2015 8:38PM

I am honored to have known Judge Caton "Missy" as a dear friend and mentor. She was a blessing to everyone who knew her. My prayers are with the family.

Carrie Trimble Rothones

February 27, 2015 7:30PM

Missy was a beautiful and intelligent woman. She loved her family. Her life reflected what hard work and determination can do. Her life touched many.

Dianna and Danny Brown

February 27, 2015 6:57PM

Mark, Twyla and Sarah
So sorry to hear of your loss. Mark I remember your mother as a wonderful loving person. Always made everyone feel welcome..May God surround each of you during this difficult time

Sissy Swann

February 27, 2015 6:33PM

With all my sympathy for the family. My prayers going up during this difficult time. I lost my Mama at 73 14 months ago. I have always remembered and never forgotten Missy's kindness. May God Bless everyone.

Amy Mathis

February 27, 2015 6:14PM

Judge Caton was an amazing lady. I had the privilege of working with her for a short time. She will be missed by all that knew her.

Pinkie Benton

February 27, 2015 5:53PM

Dear Family, I am so sorry for the loss of Betty! She was a true Lady and was very respected in the community! May God wrap HIS comfort blanket around each of you, and give you the peace that only HE can give!

Sherry Watkins Campbell

February 27, 2015 5:52PM

I was deeply saddened by the news of Missy's passing. My heart felt condolences to you and your family.

Penny Ammerman winters

February 27, 2015 5:52PM

Seeing this wonderful obituary sends me back on memory lane . I'm so sorry for y'all loss Mrs. Caton will b missed by many .
Penny Ammerman Winters

Sharon Howard

February 27, 2015 5:46PM

Sending prayers to the Caton family. I'm very sorry for your loss. Sincerely , Sharon M howard

BILL & Lillian Hughes

February 27, 2015 5:41PM

Betty was a good friend to us .I loved talking to her about our yards .I will miss her , Bill Hughes . 2415 Riverview dr.

Barbara Jouette

February 27, 2015 5:08PM

My sincerest condolences to Judge Caton's family. What a wonderful woman she was. Certainly a mentor to me and a person I immensely respected and admired. And she was so much fun in a personal setting. She will be remembered and missed.

Angie D'Amore

February 27, 2015 5:08PM

As a young attorney, I was privileged to watch her practice on a daily basis. She was truly the best. I was sad to hear her last years were plagued by ALS but not surprised she met it with dignity and grace. You are sorely missed Judge Caton. I feel blessed to have known you.

Stephen H. Miller

February 27, 2015 5:05PM

She was compassionate and fair as a judge
and always looked for the good in everyone.
We loved her.

Brenda Burns Kellow

February 27, 2015 4:48PM

Missy was a wonderful, happy and so honest and loving always. We were all delighted to have such an honorable person in our family. We will miss her. Love you, Missy!

Candy Riddle

February 27, 2015 4:44PM

I will always love you and treasure the relationship we had. Kids, i love you too and i'm so very sorry! Thanks for sharing your mom with me and so many others over the years. She was a truly remarkable personvia. The abundance of love, laughter, sincerity & knowledge was always there for everyone. She will be missed dearly.

Chuck Trimble

February 27, 2015 4:10PM

Missy was quite a fine example to our community all the years I knew her and she always had a kind word for me. She will be missed in this world.