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Dr Betsy Charmaine <I>Perteit</I> Harfst

Dr Betsy Charmaine Perteit Harfst

Death 13 Dec 2011
Burial Cremated, Ashes scattered
Memorial ID 81915292 · View Source
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My mother, Dr. Betsy P. Harfst, was a brilliant woman. She was born in 1928, and her father wanted her to be a traditional girl -- go to high school, and marry Bill, the boy who asked her. This was not what she wanted, though. She went to college, studying English, married a young man (Ernie Harfst) who was there on the G.I. Bill, started a family, and took a few years off to have four major heart attacks, experimental open heart surgery, and another child.

After a seven-year hiatus, she went back to college, got her bachelor's, her master's, and her Ph.D. In the meantime, besides taking her college classes, she taught as an instructor at Northern Illinois University, she became a gourmet cook, she joined several local organizations for women, and was the president of some of them for a few years, she started 4-H clubs, Brownies, Girl Scouts, and Cub Scouts for me and my brothers, and acted as the leader for these organizations for several years, she learned to refinish and recover furniture, she made all of her own and my clothes, she learned to barber to cut my brothers' hair, she gardened and raised all of our fruits and vegetables, and canned the produce for use during the winter, she made flower arrangements from local wildflowers and sold them at the Royal Blue grocery downtown, and she and my father and a couple other parents combined and created a Spanish language class for 4th--6th grade students, hiring a teacher, and arranging a facility.

My parents acted as a host family for the International Student Organization at Northern Illinois University, and we had foreign students from many countries around the house at all holidays, and at many other times. Her best friends were from India and the Philippines.

In 1968 she got a position as the Division Chairperson of Liberal Arts and Sciences at the local community college, which she and her husband helped establish. (He was the Division Chair of Vocational Technology.)

There she also taught English, in addition to supervising the teachers in her division. She organized a class program for continuing education, where the class toured various parts of the world, and she led those tours. She took her tour group to Peru, Guatemala, El Salvador, many parts of Mexico, England, Scotland, France, the Netherlands, Spain, Hawaii, Japan, Hong Kong, the Philippines, and some countries which escape me at the moment. For more than ten years, she was a member of the board of the SURS, the State University Retirement System of Illinois, which directly oversees the pension funds of all the state university and college employees. She also wrote critical essays which were published, and wrote for some encyclopedias. She was the editor of the Science Fiction Research Association Journal, a monthly compilation of critical essays and book reviews written by teachers of science fiction all over the English-speaking world.

In retirement, she took writing classes, art classes, continued to sew her clothes and cook gourmet-quality meals, helped raise her grandchildren, and created various kinds of items to sell at the craft fairs in the Phoenix valley. (She was a fine arts minor in college.) She continued to write for publishing companies and encyclopedias, and continued to edit the SFRA Journal. She and my father volunteered as Docents at the Mesa Southwest Museum, and for a year or two she was the president of their volunteer group organization. She and my father volunteered for the Gilbert, AZ police department; my father acted as a bailiff in the local courts, my mother was a member of the juvenile offender program which tried to find alternative outcome methods for non-violent offenders. (Suitable offenders went to this citizen's court.) She was an election judge in the local precinct. These are just the things which I remember off the top of my head. She did more.

My point is, her life was made harder by attitudes in society, that there were a whole lot of things which women just should NOT be doing, and she had to try harder to get where she was going, because of the roadblocks society put in her way. But she got there. My admiration for women like my mother who refused to take "no" for an answer is unbounded. I have some nieces whose futures are wide open with opportunity, because of women like my mother. Not a bad legacy.

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See more Harfst memorials in:

  • Created by: Sue Ann Harfst
  • Added: 
  • Find A Grave Memorial 81915292
  • Roses~
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Dr Betsy Charmaine Perteit Harfst (1 Nov 1928–13 Dec 2011), Find A Grave Memorial no. 81915292, ; Maintained by Sue Ann Harfst (contributor 46972179) Cremated, Ashes scattered.