Betsy Ross Builta – Obituary

Betsy Ross [Builta], 84, passed away at home near Granger, TX on January 22, 2022, surrounded by loved ones. Our incredible Betsy was born in Sonora, TX on March 19, 1937, to rancher Joe Brown Ross and Lena Belle Briggs Ross. Extremely proud of her heritage, family was of exceptional importance to her. Betsy relished the opportunity to roam the Ross Ranch with brother Joe David and sister Kathryn. Growing up in a ranching family, Betsy learned the joys and responsibilities of hard work and stewardship of the land. The principles of ethical land management spoke to her and remained paramount in her perspectives throughout her life.


Betsy discovered a love for tennis in her teen years and excelled at it. After graduating from Sonora High School where she won back-to-back State Singles Tennis titles in 1954 and 1955, Betsy attended The University of Texas in Austin where she made lifelong friends and graduated with a degree in education. She also unofficially was a Southwest Conference women’s tennis champion!


Betsy was a champion for equality whether it was women athletes (Title IX and countless children’s sporting programs), women in business (MBA UT 1978, BRB Investments, Texas Department of Insurance) or the earth (Betsy Ross Grass Fed Beef, Sustainable Growth Texas).  Betsy was admired for her view that all people, regardless of station or circumstance, should be treated equally and deserved respect. This was not always a popular stance, but it was integral to her world view, and she wasn’t shy about speaking up. Her charm and intellect were helpful in this regard.


In 1999 Betsy moved to “The Farm” outside of Granger. Her inherited love of the land, as well as her love for learning, steered Betsy into turning the former cotton farm into an organic operation for raising native grasses and grass-fed beef. Betsy believed the land could and should be a sustainable resource. She was intensely interested in the ecology of the soil and parlayed her knowledge into the creation of two thriving businesses: Betsy Ross Grass Fed Beef and Sustainable Growth Texas. She loved working alongside son J.R., in a partnership with brother Joe David and with the support of daughter Suzy. She was very proud of them. Betsy was also grateful for the support of other family and many other remarkable folks who shared her philosophies. Betsy was a natural educator and mentor, having found her passion, she worked tirelessly to share her knowledge with others locally and nationwide. 


Betsy practiced what she preached, whether it was that opportunities should be equal among all people or that traditional farming chemicals had no place on the land. Nothing stopped her from trying to convince people to change their minds. She had an opinion about almost everything and she wasn’t afraid to tell you what it was! Betsy was also a staunch supporter and dauntless defender of family and friends. When Betsy had your back, you knew you weren’t alone. 


Betsy is survived by her brother Joe David Ross (Frances) of Sonora, TX, and her daughter Suzy Builta Hankins [Keith] and her daughter in law, Kim Builta [Thomas] She is also survived by grandchildren Joyce McCown [Hankins], Tommy Hankins [Candace], Lizzy Builta and Kaci Builta and great-grandson Lawson James Hankins, as well as many cousins, nieces, nephews and a plethora of beloved friends. She is predeceased by her son James Ross Builta and sister Kathryn.


A celebration of life service will be held on March 19, 2022 at Ross Farm outside of Granger, TX. Betsy will be laid to rest with her family in Sonora.  In lieu of flowers, the family welcomes donations to Holistic Management International, Organic Horticulture Benefit Alliance of Houston or Koinonia Farms, Georgia.