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Betty Leech, an Oskaloosa legend, passes away

by Dennis Sharkey

Last week Jefferson County lost a pillar of the community.

Betty Leech, 89, passed away on Monday, Oct. 4, at her home in Oskaloosa.

Besides being a friend to many in the area, Leech and her late husband, William, have left a legacy that will last for generations to come.

More than 30 years ago on a cold January morning locals turned the first shovel of dirt on what is now known as the Old Jefferson Town. The Leeches donated all of the land for the Old Jefferson Town that encompasses about 5 1/2 acres.

Mr. Leech, who was president of the Jefferson County Historical Society when the project began in 1969, finally dedicated and opened the Town on July 9, 1971, during the Old Settler’s Reunion.

Current President Leanne Chapman said in a statement that she hopes she can fill the big shoes left behind by Bill and Betty.

“Growing up in Oskaloosa over the years I knew that she was a woman devoted to her church and community,” Chapman said. “She touched many lives through her work and commitment to Oskaloosa. The community and the people that knew her should be proud to have known her.”

Those who knew Betty closely say she was a leader by example. Even when Betty became less able to do physical work, historical society members would often show up at the village to find Betty scrubbing the sides of the buildings.

“She was just a great lady,” Historical Society member Marilyn Sharkey said.”She inspired all of us to continue her legacy.”

Historical Society member Julie Frisbie said in a statement that Betty was not only active at the Old Jefferson Town, but she also had a hand in getting many things done around the entire community.

“She always gave more credit to others for accomplishments, but it was she who pulled everyone together and got things done,” Frisbie said. “She can never be replaced.”

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Posted by on Oct 16 2010. Filed under County News, The Independent. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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