Betty Mae “Chick”
Ertel, 94, died at 10:15 p.m. on Saturday, February 1, 2020 at home, BeeHive
Homes in Lafayette, Indiana.
Betty was born at
home on August 28, 1925, in Tipton, Indiana. She was the daughter of Roy
Donald and Eva May (Scroggs) Girard.
She married James
William “Jim” Ertel in Tipton on June 19, 1946. In their 70 years of
marriage, they lived mostly in Indiana. Except for two years in Lexington,
Kentucky, they lived in Tipton, Gary (Miller Beach), Chesterton, West
Lafayette and Lafayette.
Betty is survived
by their five children, James Michael (Pat) Ertel, Joseph Alan (Jean) Ertel,
Carol Ann Ertel (Jerry) King, Andrew Edward (Donna) Ertel and Marylou Ertel.
They have four grandchildren, Joe (Heather) Ertel, Amy (Jon) Summers, Jim
(Michelle) Ertel and Andy King; five step grandchildren, Heather, Robyn,
Kathy, Matt and Charlie. She is also survived by six great-grandchildren,
Hanna, Gretchen, Audrey, Grant, James and Noah and seven step
great-grandchildren, Jackson, Benjamin, Colin, Elyse, Graham, Lena and Deven.
Betty’s husband, parents and sister, Mary (Girard) McNeal, are deceased.
Betty’s father, Roy
Girard, owned the Tipton Hatchery. Betty claimed she didn’t like chicken as
she ate so much of it as a child. It’s how she got her nickname “Chick”.
After high school, Betty worked for Perfect Circle during the war. She
wanted to be Rosie the Riveter, but was too young. Instead she worked as a
receptionist. She attended Indiana University for one year before getting
married. Jim played basketball for Purdue and they lived in the barracks
Purdue set up for the returning married servicemen.
On February 24,
1947, tragedy struck as the student section of the Purdue Fieldhouse
collapsed during a basketball game against Wisconsin. As 3,400 fans stood to
cheer their team at the end of the first half, the stands buckled and
collapsed to the floor. Jim was just leaving the court heading for the
locker room. Betty, who was 6 months pregnant, was in the section that
collapsed. She was not hurt and was so thankful that so many of the students
were returning servicemen. They instructed everyone to remain calm, lift
their feet and to ride the bleachers down, thus saving many, many lives.
Betty completed her
education degree from Indiana University after getting their kids into
school. She taught all levels of elementary school except fourth grade. She
taught at East Gary Bailey Elementary School and at Westchester, Bailley,
and Liberty Elementary Schools in Chesterton, Indiana. She earned her
master’s degree from Purdue University, something that made her father, Roy,
Purdue Class of 1914, very proud. Betty was respected by her administrators
and colleagues and beloved by her students. She loved all her students,
especially the ones who didn’t believe in themselves. Her influence changed
their lives for the better.
Betty was a member
of the Tipton, Gary and Chesterton chapters of Tri Kappa. Betty and her best
friend, Zola Riffe, made wedding cakes and catered many receptions in
After Jim and Betty
retired, they spent many years traveling, enjoying time with family and
friends and playing numerous rounds of golf. Their favorite trips were to
Alaska, Ireland and Greece. They wintered in Lakeland, Florida for twenty
plus years. Betty made deep and lifelong friends no matter where she visited
or lived. She loved entertaining family and friends, earning her other
nickname “The Social Director”.
Betty is remembered
for her perpetual smile. She lived a full, long and loving life and died
peacefully in her sleep. We would like to thank all the caregivers at
BeeHive Homes for the exceptional care and love given her during the last
years of her life.
A Funeral Mass will
be held at 2:00 p.m. on Saturday, March 7, at St. Thomas Aquinas (Purdue),
535 West State Street, West Lafayette with Fr. Patrick Baikauskas, O.P.
Betty’s family will begin at 1:00 p.m. on Saturday at the church.
Betty will be
buried at St. John’s Cemetery, Tipton, at 11:00 a.m. on Sunday, March 8.
Young-Nichols Funeral Home, Tipton, is in charge of the arrangements.
The family wishes
that in lieu of flowers memorial donations in Betty’s memory be made to St.
Thomas Aquinas (Purdue), 535 West State Street, West Lafayette, Indiana,