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Memorial Plaque Dedicated to SM's Beloved Lunch Lady


File photo: The Orange County Register

Betty Cottage has been a well-known name on the Santa Margarita Catholic High School campus for the past several decades. When the school opened in 1987, her smiling face could be seen through the lunchroom window. She prepared lunches and baked warm chocolate chip cookies for SMCHS students from the beginning. A memorial plaque for Cottage was recently dedicated to her and hung in the faculty/staff lunchroom.

 "I recall clearly Betty being the face I looked for whenever lining up at the cafeteria window since I knew her warm smile would be on the other side. My mom occasionally volunteered in the cafeteria, and she and Betty had a special relationship -- always laughing, joking and sharing stories while working hard for the students. I am sure Betty left a positive impression on thousands of students over the years, and I am grateful to have been one of them," said Chris Bodell, '91.

Cottage worked as an elementary school noon supervisor for children's retreats at a Benedictine monastery before joining SM as the lunch lady. Cottage says she felt a calling by God to work with kids. She is remembered for her contagious smile, gregarious personality and rapport with students during her employment of more than a quarter of a century.

"I feel like the kids are getting a good education here," Cottage told a local newspaper. "That's what's important to me. It's all about getting back to where you came from, heaven and God." Her three children, Joyce, Tom and David Cottage, who attended the on-campus dedication, recall their mother enjoying not only the Catholic environment but working with the kids.

Ray Dunne, SMCHS Principal Emeritus and AP US Government Teacher, said, "I think it's very appropriate to do Betty's dedication not only during the month of All Souls but also Thanksgiving. We give a great deal of thanks to Betty and her impact on Santa Margarita." Betty Cottage died on November 24, 2021. May God rest her soul.

"The only thing sweeter than Betty was her legendary chocolate chip cookies," said Patrick Keane '91.

Cottage receiving the Soaring Eagle award, with Jerry Holloway and Ray Dunne.