Betty Lucille Klein


Honored By

Honored by: Klein & Family, Joseph
Date submitted: October 24, 2006
Gift: Engraved Paver, Small

Betty Lucille Klein was born on February 22, 1927 in Big Springs, Nebraska. She was the sole daughter of the seven children born to James Ray and Ella Nora (Lindauer) Barnica. Even as a child, Betty knew that she wanted to be a teacher and her life revolved around achieving this goal.

After graduating from Big Springs Rural High School in the spring of 1944, Betty spent a summer working in Denver, Colorado assembling tailfins for bombshells. That fall, she began her first teaching assignment in a one-room school house in Deuel County, Nebraska. Born and raised in poverty, Betty was unable to pursue a college degree immediately following graduation from high school. However, after two years of teaching, she had saved enough money to afford her freshman year at the University of Nebraska.

Upon completion of her freshman year of college in 1948, Betty accepted a job with Ogallala Public Schools teaching second grade. While teaching, she continued her education by taking off-campus and correspondence courses.

In January 1952, Betty married Emanuel Leo Klein and left Nebraska to settle in Tucson, Arizona for the warmer climate. Unlike Nebraska, Arizona required its teachers to have a bachelor's degree. Unable to teach, Betty took a position with Sears where she worked in the credit department.

In 1955, Betty gave birth to Joseph Stanley Klein, followed by John Lee Klein in 1957. Once both children were in nursery school, Betty resumed taking classes towards her teaching degree. These were difficult times for Betty who felt awkward being an "older student" and who was criticized for pursuing a career outside of homemaking. Betty said that her University of Arizona advisor, Mr. Milo Blecha, was instrumental in supporting her and helping her achieve her dream of teaching.

In 1962, Betty received her Bachelors of Education from the University of Arizona. She immediately began teaching for the Tucson Unified School District and taking night classes towards her Masters degree which she attained in 1967.

Betty was not your average teacher, but an extraordinary one. Her adoration for teaching and for her students was obvious. After 20 years of classroom teaching, she had multitudes of children who would point to "Mrs. Klein" as their favorite elementary school teacher.

Betty retired from TUSD in 1982 and opened the Spanish Trail Preschool. Due to Betty's leadership of the school, it was widely popular and had a waiting list of students anxious to attend. Betty owned and operated the school until 1988.

Betty continues to dedicate her efforts to education and to the community through her involvement in professional and philanthropic organizations. She is past president and an active member of the Delta Kappa Gamma's Honorary Teacher's Society, the Tucson Women's Club, and the Daughters of the American Revolution. She is also a lifetime member of the National Education Association.

Betty Klein is an inspiration. She has shown that despite the many obstacles you may encounter, through perseverance you can attain your dreams.