Mary Elizabeth “Betty” Absheer, 85 of Poplar Bluff, Mo., went to be with her Lord, Family & Friends, Saturday, October 30th after a short illness.
She was born to the late Charles Robert & Cassie (Meador) Absheer on October 19th 1936, at home in Old Greenville, Mo.
In January 1942, The Absheer Family moved to the East Side of Poplar Bluff, where Betty resided for 80 years, 62 years of which was in the same home.
Her early education was at the J. Minnie Smith Grade School two blocks from her home. She graduated from Poplar Bluff Junior High and Poplar Bluff High School in 1954, when "both buildings were Downtown." She would often speak of playing basketball & softball in her early years & going with her friends to A&W for an ice-cold Root Beer after a game. The classmates of 1954 are a close group still to this day. A highlight of Betty’s month was getting together with the group for their monthly breakfast at Myrtle’s & dinner at various locations.
Betty often said, "I would not take anything for the experience of growing up in our Downtown, window shopping, eating at Belknap's Drug Store where her sister, Bonnie, worked 30 years, and walking down the grand staircase at the depot.
Betty started attending First Church of God when she was 5 years old, when the congregation met in "the old white frame church on the East Side" before building a larger church. Betty had not only been a very active member of the church but was referred to as one of church matriarchs. She was the youth and music director for many years and served on various boards over the years.
Betty always enjoyed all types of music & had a God given gift of singing, which she used as part of the Diamond Gospel Quartet for 40 years, as well as singing for numerous weddings & funerals.
Betty worked three years in the office at Anderson Furniture on Fifth Street, 13 years at Metropolitan Insurance at Ninth and Vine streets and 28 years in the Poplar Bluff Housing Authority Office. She was retired for six years and then started working part-time for Cummings Real Estate where she had been for 17 years until her recent illness.
Betty was quoted as saying, "I have always been taught to serve, volunteer and help people.” Her life was a true example of a servant’s heart.
In 1988, then Sheriff Link was looking for help transporting female prisoners, when he approached Betty to become a fully commissioned Deputy Sherriff. Making Betty the first female Deputy in Butler County, her family often joke about her carrying a gun in her purse, but her badge, gun & handcuffs were prized possession.
Betty was appointed as the Ward 3 council member in September 1989 and elected to the remaining two years of that term in April 1990 -- the first of nine successful elections serving as Ward 3 Councilwoman for over 25 years until her retirement in April of 2015. Betty was the first female mayor elected in the History of Poplar Bluff. Council members elected her to 5 one-year terms as mayor in April of 1993, 1996, 2000, 2006 and 2015.
Betty was member of Altrusa International for 45 years, serving in many leadership roles including president of the Poplar Bluff Club, governor of District 8 (Missouri, Arkansas, Oklahoma and Kansas) and vice president on the International Board. She has visited clubs in all four states and traveled to national and international conventions. While attending the International Altrusa Convention in New Zealand in 1995, she had her photo taken with the first lady mayor of Christchurch.
In May of 2020 Betty was awarded the Marilyn J. Bell Humanitarian Award presented by Altrusa District Eight. The award is designed to recognize an Altrusan who makes a lasting contribution to community service as a result of their involvement with Altrusa.
Having no children of her own, Betty had many niece & nephews which she considered her children. Survived by her: 3 Nieces, Terri (Dave) Downey, Becky (Keith) Brent, & Susan (Reid) Forrester; 1 Nephew, Robert (Debbie) Knowles. 9 Great Nieces & Nephews; Keith Issac, Kevin Issac, Stacey Bruce, Kelley Brent, Jeff Brent, Andy Knowles, Leslie Gragg, Beth Forrester, & Cassie Knowles-Sieben. 15 Great-Great Nieces & Nephews & 3 Great-Great-Great Nieces & Nephews, along with many cousins.
Betty has touched many lives in 85 years and is survived by many friends including two lifelong friends, Paralee Diamond & Judy German.
She was proceeded in death by: Her Parents, Brothers; Willard Absheer, Baby Boy Absheer, Paul Absheer, & Herbert Absheer, Sister; Bonnie Absheer Knowles, Sister-in-laws; Nonna Rae (Bowden) Absheer & Joyce (Presson) Absheer and Great Nephew Derek Sieben
Visitation will be held on Friday, Nov 5th, 2021, from 5:00–8:00pm at Willow Ridge Funeral & Cremation Services in Poplar Bluff. A Celebration of Life Fully Lived will be held on Saturday, Nov 6th, 2021, at 10:00am at Willow Ridge Funeral & Cremation Services with officiating by Rev Ben Higgins & Rev Steve Proctor. Burial will follow at Memorial Gardens Cemetery.