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