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Bettye Lou Jerrel

October 29, 1930 January 24, 2017
Bettye Lou Jerrel
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Obituary for Bettye Lou Jerrel

To My Mother- Upon the 2nd anniversary of your passing, it is with a heavy heart that I want to share your remarkable life with those in the city that you loved so dearly.
With love, your daughter Cindy and family

Bettye Lou Jerrel, 86, passed away at her home in Evansville on Tuesday, January 24, 2017. She was born on October 29, 1930 in Evansville and was the only child of John and Georgia (Howell) Baird. She married Bryan “Broc” Jerrel in 1949--A union that lasted until his passing in 2010. Bettye Lou was the proud mother of Cindy and John and very proud grandmother of Carley Rose Anderson and Dr. Jason McKay Miller.

Bettye Lou was first and foremost an educator. She attended Washington Elementary School and Bosse High School, where she graduated in 3 ½ years. She began her college education at Evansville College in 1948. She graduated from the University of Evansville in 1962, where she earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Biology and Economics and completed her Master’s Degree—All with honors. She completed these degrees while raising 2 children and working full-time. She started her teaching career at Washington Elementary School where she taught Science and Social Studies. After teaching for several years, she was named Supervisor of Science, Health & Safety for the Evansville Vanderburgh School Corporation. She held this position until her retirement in 1997.

There is really no reason to even use the word retired. Bettye Lou never retired. Recognized for her professional achievements and community leadership, she was appointed to state commissions by 3 governors: Dr. Otis Bowen, Robert Orr, and Mitch Daniels. Of her many appointments, the most prestigious and meaningful, was her appointment by Governor Robert Orr to the First Indiana State Board of Education in 1984. The Board was charged with determining virtually every aspect of elementary and secondary education policy in Indiana.

Bettye Lou also had a lengthy record of community involvement. Among her numerous civic activities, she was president and/or on the board of directors of the American Cancer Society, Evansville Teachers Association, Operation City Beautiful, Wesselman Nature Center, and the Board of Park Commissioners.

Bettye Lou was a lifelong Republican. Her serious interest in politics began at age 20 and by age 24, she was selected as the Young Republican National Committeewoman. Bettye Lou was the first woman of either party to be elected Vanderburgh County Chairman. She was elected twice to this position. In between her 2 terms as party chair, Bettye Lou was elected to the Vanderburgh County Council and the Board of Commissioners—Both of which she was President. She was a pioneer, role model, and mentor--particularly for the women interested in public service.

Bettye Lou was proud to serve the city of Evansville in any capacity. Her professional, community, and political achievements have spanned over 50 years. A biography included in her EVSC Hall of Fame induction noted that she was a member of Phi Delta Kappa, a professional organization for leaders in education. She was appointed to the Textbook Adoption Committee and was on the Indiana State Board of Education. Her early work produced initiatives such as statewide testing and the A-Plus Program. Bettye Lou was also appointed to serve as a lay person on the Indiana Public Defender Commission. She was instrumental in encouraging Vanderburgh County to establish a Public Defender program to replace the court-by-court appointment of public defenders. During her tenure on the Vanderburgh County Commission, she was instrumental in securing grant funding for early Interstate 69 studies. She was passionate about science and biology. Her biology professor encouraged her to attend medical school. Unfortunately, when she graduated from college, the closest medical school was in Indianapolis. She had a family to support, so it was not possible for her to attend Indiana University School of Medicine, which was almost 4 hours away. Her granddaughter became a nurse and her grandson became a doctor, which delighted her. One of her last missions was to work with the I.U. School of Medicine to establish a regional campus in Evansville. That dream of hers is now a reality. And in closing, the most recent and cherished honors were being recognized by Governor Mitch Daniels as a “Distinguished Hoosier” and being selected as one of the YWCA’s 100 Years/100 Women.

Bettye Lou was preceded in death by her husband of 61 years, Broc, in 2010. Her son, John, passed away just 3 weeks following her passing. She is survived by her daughter, Cindy Miller Anderson (Dr. Dennis Anderson), Indianapolis; granddaughter, Carley R. Anderson, Indianapolis; and grandson, Dr. Jason M. Miller (Swathi Narra), New Orleans; and her beloved dog, AJ.

A private burial was held at Park Lawn Cemetery.


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Previous Events

Graveside

Sunday

3

Feb

9:00 AM 2/3/2019 9:00:00 AM
Park Lawn Cemetery

1526 S Green River Rd
Evansville, IN 47715

Park Lawn Cemetery
1526 S Green River Rd Evansville 47715 IN
United States
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