Norm and Betty (right) together with their children, Ryan and Tiffany (left), in 2003.

Brave like Betty

Positive outlook & determination to live life to the fullest.

Though small in stature, Betty Fluet lived life with tremendous zeal and determination, enjoying life to the fullest even when her health began to present many challenges.

At the age of 51, Betty was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease and displayed early signs of dementia. Eventually, she also exhibited many symptoms consistent with Multiple System Atrophy, a degenerative neurological disorder with a median survival rate of about seven to 10 years.

Over the next eight years, Betty’s health gradually declined. She became wheelchair bound, and would often enter a catatonic state for long periods of time when she was not aware of what was going on around her.

A Strong Support System

Throughout her health challenges, her husband Norm served as Betty’s advocate, navigating the healthcare system to make sure she was getting all the care she needed.

“I knew the system,” says Norm, who retired after almost 29 years working in the psychology department for Central Texas regional clinics for Baylor Scott & White. “I knew how to coordinate her care during a time when the electronic medical record wasn’t as sophisticated as it is now. I went to all her appointments, met with all her doctors and made sure they communicated with each other.”

“With all her medical issues, especially her declining neurological health, Betty could not have advocated for her own care,” Norm says. “She had me to do that for her, but many people do not have that built-in support system. That’s why we wanted to support the Community Health Worker program in Temple—to help fund those services for people who need someone to walk alongside them.”

At Baylor Scott & White Medical Center – Temple, Community Health Workers (CHW) are dedicated to helping patients access health and community services, increasing health knowledge, and promoting self-management of chronic illness, all with the goal of keeping patients healthy and out of the hospital. These services are offered to patients free-of-charge, thanks in large part to gifts from donors like the Fluets.

A Positive Outlook

Despite all her challenges, Betty rarely complained.

A few months before her death, Norm asked Betty to rate her quality of life on a scale of one to ten, with one being miserable and 10 being wonderful. “I was shocked when she chose six. Given all her medical issues and fragile physical state, she easily could have rated herself a one. But, not Betty.”

Betty’s positive outlook and determination to live life to the fullest challenged those around her to do the same. At her funeral, their son Ryan delivered a eulogy entitled “Be brave like Betty,” encouraging others to evaluate their own perspective and not be defined by their circumstances.

“While Betty was a prisoner in her body, her mind was free,” Norm says. “She was grateful for every moment that she lived. Her life said, simply and eloquently: be brave.”

The Betty Reichenstein Fluet Patient Advocacy fund was established with a significant initial contribution by her husband, Norm, through his IRA. 

Norm has pledged continued support through his IRA, which will allow us to hire two Community Health Workers to meet the needs of our patients at Baylor Scott & White Medical Center - Temple.

Learn more about a variety of giving options


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