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Sat, 20 Oct 2001, 06:04 PM

Betty Ruth Force, 77, Mother of John Force Passes Away
Courtesy of Dave Densmore

Betty Ruth Force, 77, mother of 10-time Winston Funny Car Champion John Force, passed away early this morning following a lengthy illness. Mrs. Force, a native of Broken Arrow, Okla., moved west in the 1940s and settled in Bell Gardens, Calif., where she raised a family that included John, older brothers Walker, Louie and Thomas and daughter Cindy.

"She was almost 80 years old, but she packed a hundred years into her life," Force said. "She was a big fan of drag racing, as responsible for getting me to this point as Austin Coil or Bernie Fedderly."

Mrs. Force, who had undergone dialysis treatments for several years, was released from the hospital earlier this week and had been allowed to return home. Her daughter was with her when she died at approximately 2 a.m. (CT) on Saturday.

"My sister was with her and she said she died very peacefully and I'm happy for that. She was so weak. I think her heart finally just gave out. It hurts, but one of the last things she told me was that she was going to a better place to be with my dad.

"It's something everyone goes through. The toughest part for me was having to tell my daugher, Ashley, who's with me this weekend, because she really loved her grandmother."

As the youngest child, Force was especially close to his mother. Childhood friend Bruce Thorsen, now a Fort Worth resident, recalled that when Mrs. Force worked at Denny's in Bell Gardens, he and John would ride their bicycles to the restaurant three or four times every day just to check in.

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