Helen Kennard Bettin

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Helen Kennard Bettin (1887–1983) was an American author, teacher and volunteer.

Helen Kennard was born on September 1, 1887 in Columbus, Ohio and the family relocated to Glendora, California in 1891. She attended public schools in Glendora and graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Pomona College in Claremont, California, in 1911.

Helen began teaching elementary school in Glendora and then applied for a position as a kindergarten teacher in Kawaiahao, Hawaii. It was on the trip to Hawaii, that she met fellow teacher, George Bettin. The two courted and were married on November 28, 1917, when they returned from their assignment in Hawaii. Ellen Beach Yaw (a premier vocalist of her time, nicknamed "Lark Ellen"), of Covina, California, sang at their wedding. George served in the military during World War I and at the conclusion of his military service they returned to Glendora to start a family and a citrus ranch. George also ran a business, providing spraying for other citrus ranchers. The couple raised three daughters, Barbara, Helen and Margaret. When George died suddenly, in 1945, Helen continued to run their citrus ranch.

Shortly after George died, Helen also began to look around for other activities to fill her time. Having been from one of the early families that settled in Glendora, she noted that by, 1945, their numbers were dwindling. Helen decided to try to capture their memories of the early days of Glendora. Her questions about those times were prompted from her own memories. She took notes while each one told their own stories. Long before tape recorders or computers, she captured the development of a "pioneer town." Her notes recorded the daily lives of the people who contributed to building Glendora. She returned home after each interview and transcribed her notes to typewritten copy. Her style of interviewing put her subject at ease and allowed them to remember for her, the events and people who had shaped Glendora. Helen's notes have been used by authors, historians and reporters in the San Gabriel Valley whenever they needed a reference about the early days in the area. However, her notes remained as just that, typewritten notes, in a notebook for the next 45 years. In her later years, Helen worked with Azusa Pacific University to develop their "Oral History Program." She became the first person interviewed in an ongoing California History Project, at Azusa Pacific University.

Helen always enjoyed sharing her memories of the early days of Glendora. She often spoke with students and civic groups about pioneer days in Glendora and the importance of recording their own memories. Helen also served with the Red Cross, the Daughters of the American Revolution, the American Legion Auxiliary and the Glendora Library. In recognition of her long-time volunteer activities and civic spirit, she was honored as the Glendora Citizen of the Year, in 1977.

Helen Kennard Bettin died on February 22, 1983. In homage to her mother, her daughter, Helen Bettin Shafer, worked tirelessly to have her mother's typewritten manuscript published. In honor of her mother's volunteer spirit, Helen donated a portion of the proceeds of the sale of her mother's book to the Glendora Library. The manuscript was edited, historic photographs were added and a foreword was written by Southern California historian, Donald H. Pflueger. The book was finally published in 1990. This I Remember -- Reminiscences of Old-Timers of Glendora, California, can be found today in the Glendora Library in Glendora, in libraries throughout the San Gabriel Valley, in California, as well as in the Library of Congress. A fitting tribute to a civic-minded, educator, local historian and Glendora, California pioneer.

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