Betty Adams


Betty Adams, 92, of Oregon, Passed away on Jan. 22, 2021 in Oregon.

Born Betty Jean Petefish on Nov. 20, 1928 in Jacksonville, Ill., to Ethel and Ivan Petefish. She was raised on a farm and attended a one room school house until high school. She attended Illinois Normal University Teachers College where she met her husband, Richard Adams at the Methodist fellowship leaf-raking day. They married Sept. 5, 1948 and she worked to put him through his bachelor’s degree at Normal University. He took various jobs as an industrial arts teacher and print shop operator while she spent long hours working office jobs and being a dutiful housewife.

When Richard was sent to Japan during the Korean War Betty stayed alone working for a year and then decided to join him. She crossed the Pacific to Tokyo on a freighter and the two of them lived in the upstairs of a traditional Japanese family home in Higashi Nagasaki, miles from the military base. Betty loved learning about people, and made lasting friendships with the Japanese. She taught English to employees at a Japanese bank.

After the army they resided for a while in Madison ,Wis., faithful members of Trinity Methodist Church there. Richard then purchased a print shop in Minot, N.D., where they lived for 6 years. They then moved to Oregon, where they made their permanent home in the wooded countryside.

Betty loved folks of all ages and would rather read a person than a book, although education was a huge priority. She went back to college at Northern Illinois University to complete the needed 2 years for her bachelor’s in education in her 40’s. She joyously and passionately taught 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th graders in Ashton for several years.

At retirement age Betty decided the best use of her skills was to promote and run a children’s wilderness camp on her own 11 acres. Believing in nature as the best healer and teacher, she recruited staff and campers, raised scholarship money, set up activities and curriculum, tents and cook fires, and ran a successful camp for 6 years.

She then turned her attention to promoting the arts and founded along with Richard The Fields Project, an annual retreat for artists who stayed with farm families that encompassed field art and an art show. For her service to the arts, she was awarded the Studs Terkel Humanities Service Award from the Illinois Humanities Council in 2002.

Whenever Betty cared, she found a way to take action, making a difference through leadership in Rochelle’s Community Action Network, to mental health as member of the Ogle County Mental Health Association, to children as board chair of Oregon’s first nonprofit day care center and as a faithful Sunday school teacher through the years. She served as executive director of the Oregon Chamber of Commerce and together with her husband Richard was recognized as an Oregon Citizen of the Year. 

Betty is preceded in death by husband Richard H. Adams, Mother Ethel Walker Oliver (Petefish), father Ivan Petefish, brother Wendell Petefish.

She is survived by son Jeff Adams (Kathy), daughters Martha Bohrer (Timothy) and Linda Adams (Charlie Schleevogt), 5 grandchildren (Jacob Adams, Greg and Anna Bohrer, Michelle and Karl Schleevogt) and 2 great grandchildren (Solveig and Magnus Bohrer). She found great joy in raising a family and in entertaining and educating her grandchildren. She cared deeply for those she loved, and the circle was wide.

Betty’s most recent concern was for hungry families in the midst of the pandemic. To address that concern the family will appreciate memorials to Lifeline Food Pantry of Oregon in lieu of flowers.

Due to Covid-19 restrictions, private family services will be held at Oregon United Methodist Church with Pastor Megan Smick officiating. The service can be viewed at 11 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 30 on Facebook live at the OUMC Facebook page. Farrell-Holland-Gale Funeral Home, Oregon assisted the family.