Bossier City Once Home to Real-Life Miss Moneypenny

The character of Miss Moneypenny, made famous by author Ian Fleming in his James Bond novels and the accompanying movies, is intelligent, inquisitive, privy to confidential information, and indispensable to Bond and his director of British Secret Service boss “M”. Few may know that Bossier City was once home to a real-life Moneypenny whose deeds and accomplishments were no less impressive than those of her fictional counterpart.


Betty Wells Rathmell had a life that brimmed with travel, interesting locales, intrigue, access to people of power and influence, athletic ability and a talent for music, and included a love of family and friends and a strong Christian faith.

Born in 1937 in Washington D.C., Betty was a good student, achieving a level of academic success in high school that led after graduation to a position as a secretary with the Federal Bureau of Investigations, where she soon became known for her shorthand skills. According to her daughter Julie Kaiser, Betty was often asked to attend meetings because she was so quick with taking dictation. This in-demand skill had her in gatherings where FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover was among the officials present. “She was on call 24 hours a day,” Julie said. “In places like the middle of a church service, she would be called to work.”

Away from the office, Betty’s athletic abilities took center stage for her employer, as a member of the FBI tennis team. Her prowess on the court helped win tournaments and trophies for the organization. Betty spent nine years with the bureau before transferring to the Pentagon for a secretarial position in military intelligence with the Defense Intelligence Agency, and it was there that she met U.S. Air Force Tech Sergeant Jim Rathmell. The two would marry in 1964.

Adventures overseas were next for Betty, as she and Jim were stationed in countries such as Italy, Spain, Germany and Africa for the USAF, and the two reveled in these opportunities. They loved to travel and experience new places. Julie recounted a story from her parent’s time in Spain that demonstrated her mother’s fearless nature. The couple met a man on a motorcycle and began a conversation with him. “The next thing my dad knew, mom had hopped on the motorcycle with the man and was riding away,” she said.

After five years abroad, Betty and Jim returned to Washington D.C., and in 1969, she accepted a job offer at the White House during the administration of President Richard Nixon. This was soon followed by a promotion. Julie said her mother once mentioned to a family member how the Watergate break-in, which eventually brought down the administration, and the resulting chaos were alarming and frightening for her. But Julie did say her mom liked Nixon and the first family, even naming her daughter after the President’s daughter Julie Nixon.

One final assignment overseas to the American Embassy in Ankara, Turkey was followed by a move to Bossier City and Barksdale Air Force Base in 1977. Julie said her mother had no trouble transitioning from world traveler and intelligence work to being a mother and homemaker. “She was a wonderful mom,” Julie said.

Betty became active in church, sharing her musical talent with others by directing the children’s music programs and playing piano during worship services at retirement homes in Bossier. She also maintained her competitive edge, taking to the bowling alley instead of the tennis court. And she became a grandmother, spending lots of quality time with her three grandchildren. Betty passed away in 2013 at age 76, but left a legacy that continues to inspire. The fictional Miss Moneypenny may have some catching up to do.

If you have any stories, photos or other information relating to women of Bossier Parish who’ve made history, the History Center may be interested in adding the materials to its research collection by donation or by scanning them and returning the originals. Call or visit us to learn more. We are open M-Th 9-8, Fri 9-6, and Sat 9-5. Our phone number is (318) 746-7717 and our email is We can also be found online at


  • First photo: Betty Wells Rathmell/family photo
  • Second photo: Betty standing next to J. Edgar Hoover with her tennis trophy/courtesy Julie Kaiser

Article by: Kevin Flowers