Cover photo for Betty “Chick” Ertel's Obituary
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1925 Betty 2020

Betty “Chick” Ertel

August 28, 1925 — February 1, 2020

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 3400 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 Tipton.

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. officiating. Visitation with 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, 47906.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Betty “Chick” Ertel, please visit our flower store.


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