Jane Derr Betts, ‘67
When I was growing up in ClarkFork, I never heard from my parents, “when you go to college,” but rather “when you go to Idaho.” They both had attended, with my father earning a master’s degree from Idaho, and all three of my brothers had gone there. They proudly sang the words to Here We Have Idaho (while standing, of course) with the ending of “Alma mater our Idaho.”
When it came time for me to attend Idaho, our funds were very limited. I don’t know how they managed to get me there, but off we went. By then we were living in Boise, so it was quite a long distance in 1963. My mother had fallen and severely injured herself, but she came too, lying in the backseat of the car for the drive. I remember standing by the window at the Hotel Moscow thinking that I was too frightened to go to school, but more afraid to tell my parents I had changed my mind!
I was lucky enough to get to live in Campbell hall the first year it was open. I loved the new building, the coed living, and the great cafeteria. I worked in the kitchen for three years. The cooks and Miss Moran spoiled us rotten. My children and students would always just stare at me when I told them about the rules we lived under, such as listening to the radio in the morning to see if it was cold enough to wear pants, the curfew at night, rules about cleaning our rooms and the strictly enforced rule about how close we could sit to our boyfriend in the common areas.
One of the first meetings I attended at the Mary Hall Nichols building was organized by two senior girls. It covered all of the rules of dress for women such as when we could wear white shoes, how many matching accessories were appropriate and when to switch from cotton to wool. Of course, I already knew the cotton to wool rule because at Boise High School, we had a formal “cotton day” in the spring and a “wool day” in the fall.
I loved my “home ec” classes and the professors. They brought us into the family and made us feel at home. I had at first thought I would go home if I had to take any classes except clothing and textiles and art! Then my schedule wouldn’t work with all of the freshmen courses, so I ended up in a sophomore level nutrition class from Miss Newcomb. I quickly became a convert and loved that class. Some of the things we were taught in 1963-67 are now being reported as “new” information today. Talk about being ahead of her time. Of course, I loved all of the other classes too. I don’t think I can remember a single day where my professors weren’t totally prepared and working extra hours to give us what we needed to become fully prepared professionals. We were strongly encouraged to become involved too. I don’t think I even gave a second’s hesitation before I joined what is now AAFCS. As Idaho grads we were expected to be the ones serving as President and organizing the events.
One of my most influential professors was Gladys Bellinger. I had a big loving family, but I was the tail end child and pretty much raised myself. Her Family Relations class was an eye opener. Some would make remarks about a single lady teaching that class, but Dr. B knew her stuff. One time, she gave us a reading list and I went right to the library to check out some of the books. I ended up reading four that day, even though I had a paper due for another class the next day! I never doubted for a second that she loved us and would do anything for “her girls.”
I learned a lot about organization from Miss Ritchie. Almost 20 years later, I found myself in a high school classroom as the FCS teacher (in the middle of the year, no less!). I could have never survived without drawing on what I learned from her about how to run a food’s lab.
My association with FCS and the University did not end with my graduation. As an Extension Home Economist, I continued to be fortunate enough to have a close relationship for years. After I began teaching, I still had close contact through FCCLA and by serving on the alumni board. FCS professors never stopped loving, nurturing and teaching us. Even those who have never had us in the classroom seem to draw us in and to always be there for us. I can’t even imagine what my life would have been like had I not had this wonderful relationship all of these years.
I served as the extension home economist in Washington County for 15 years, taught Home Economics and then Family and Consumer Sciences for 26 years and now I own a custom sewing business. I married Bill Betts (68) in 1966, and have two grown children Sarah Betts Firkins (2000) and W. David Betts (2003). They also are married to two University of Idaho graduates. Charles (Rusty) Firkins (2000) and Heather Omas Betts (2004). We have six grandchildren and have savings account for each set up so they can use them when they attend Idaho!—photos Bill, me, Sarah and Charles Firkins and their children Michael, Gabriel, Elijah and Miriam and David and Heather Betts with their girls, Lauren and Grace