* Mrs. Elizabeth L. “Betta” Franzen of Creston, NC and charter member of the New River Chapter passed away on June 2, 2013 at her home.
* Mrs. Franzen was born on May 1, 1932...she was 81.
* Betta was the surviving spouse of Ivar Per Franzen who was born on November 12, 1916 and died on March 31, 1993. Ivar was a veteran of the U.S. Army having entered service in 1934 in Woodbridge, New Jersey and left the service in 1954 in Buffalo, NY. During his time in the U.S. Army, he was a Signal Corps Officer whose duty included being stationed in Germany during WWII.
* Ivar and Betta were married in June of 1963 and worked as school teachers in Germany until retirement and then on the recommendation of a friend, moved to Creston, NC and built their home in the mountains. After Ivar passed away in 1993, Betta continued to live in Creston where her niece, Tweety, described her as “always the educator, always the gin-rummy winner and always ready to share a good hard laugh.”
* Upon seeing information in the Jefferson Post about the formation of the New River Chapter, Betta became a charter member, but due to health and mobility concerns, was never able to attend any meetings. She regularly kept up with Chapter events via our newsletter which was shared by her chapter "Buddy," Frances Hunt.
* In 2011, Chapter President, Doug Ehrhardt received a call from Betta after getting his telephone number via a common acquaintance. Her request was "Could someone visit me once a year?"
* On paying a visit to Betta in Creston, it became evident that more frequent visits would certainly be desirable and Doug and his wife, Cathy made several trips to her home for social calls and to assist with some needs related to her being a surviving spouse, most important being renewing her military ID card that was long since expired.
* Betta was also interested in seeing that some of the many, many books, both military and historical, from her and Ivar's years of teaching could be shared, as well as an oscilloscope that Ivar used on active duty...it was suggested that the items would be a welcome addition to the Museum of Ashe County History as they were preparing a WWII Military Room display. And so it was done.
* Due to health and the complications of living so far out in Creston, plus inhospitable winter temperatures, Betta's sister had her come to College Station, TX each year during the winter. On her last trip in 2013, her sister also wanted her to stay and not go back to NC, but Betta wanted to return to the mountains she loved.
* Doug met with Betta's niece, Tweety in late May to discuss various options and things that would have been necessary to ease her living conditions after her return. Tweety also told him that Betta was even giving some thought to making a move to an assisted living facility in West Jefferson and hoped to visit it in June...she told Doug that Betta saw an advertisement about a facility on the front page of the Mountain Times where our Chapter's full page ad discussing our May showing of the "Conscientious Objector" documentary and said she wanted to go for a visit when Doug returned from a trip to Europe in mid June...
* Unfortunately, Betta passed away, alone and in her Creston home on June 2nd. A local caregiver had spent the morning of June 1st with her and left her a sandwich for lunch, and the TV tuned to the baseball channel which was still on when she returned the next day. The sandwich was still in the refrigerator.
* As a personal note, Doug said he talked with Betta's niece upon returning from Europe and expressed his disappointment at not having learned of her passing...it would have been nice if only some of our New River Chapter members could have learned of her memorial service, but such was not the case.
* In the 2 1/2 years from when Doug first met Betta until a final visit with her on May 28th, he came to appreciate her warm personality - very direct and perhaps a little crusty on first meeting - but as someone who was truly an educator and certainly someone who enjoyed a good laugh!
The photograph to the right was from the obituary notice of a lovely Elizabeth Franzen. The lower one is from Ivar and Betta's wedding.
Scroll over some of the thumbnail pictures to the right and enjoy seeing Betta, and Ivar, in later years and from their time together in North Carolina.
These pictures were shared with Doug Ehrhardt by Betta's niece, Tweety. They truly reflect someone who lived every day to the fullest and enjoyed her life in North Carolina.