In gratitude to Betty Durden

Betty Durden: Leaving a legacy for the Center’s future

Betty Durden (photo courtesy of her family)

(October 2017) – Betty Durden lived large and gave generously. A woman of extensive accomplishment, she led with courage even when personal risk was high and rewards limited.

Of the many organizations Betty supported, she gave to the Des Moines Pastoral Counseling Center throughout her lifetime including serving as a member of the Center’s Foundation Board and advising on human resource best practices. At the time of her death she left a large legacy gift to the Center – a bequest that will help ensure access to counseling services for others, for years to come.

On October 12, 2017, the family of Betty Durden hosted a reception at the Center to honor Betty, and to present a large bequest check from Betty’s estate to fulfill her philanthropic wishes. Center staff were grateful for the invitation to join in the celebration of Betty’s life, and to witness the gift presentation following comments offered by Betty’s daughter, Barbara Durden Davis (see transcript below).

We are forever grateful for Betty Durden’s vision, support and remarkable legacy — supporting our shared mission of understanding, hope and healing far into the future.

The full transcript of Barbara Durden Davis’ presentation

The family of Betty Durden, along with the Center’s executive director Jim Hayes, board vice chair Sally Wood, and Center founders Ellery Duke and Eileen Burtle.

Good Afternoon –

My name is Barbara Durden Davis and I am the daughter of Betty J. Durden.  My oldest brother, Rick Durden is here as is my other brother, David.  Along with David is his wife Loretta and with me are my husband Mark Davis, my daughters Erin and Erika Romar and my granddaughter Kiylah Reed. My first cousin, my mother’s nephew Ron Morden is also here (see family photo above). My brother Rick’s wife, Karen, was going to come but unfortunately was unable to do so at the last minute.

Our Mother, Betty, died on February 20th of this year and my brothers and I are carrying out the wishes she specifically delineated in her will.  But before we make the check presentation, I’d like to tell you a bit about her.

She received her BA in English from Drake in 1948 after having a couple of hiccups in her education due to time spent at the FBI in Washington D.C. in the steno pool and serving as a Yeoman in the WAVES.

She received an MSE in Guidance and Counseling in 1971 and then an Ed.D in 1990 when she was 67 years old.  Both of these were from Drake University.

While she was in a volunteer position at the Des Moines YWCA, she was approached during the summer of 1969 to join Drake University as Director of Women Programs where she was to set up a program of continuing education for women.  She accepted and was appointed Assistant to the Dean of Continuing Education.  She stayed with Drake through 1988 retiring as Director of Human Resources and Special Assistant to the President for Equal Opportunity Programs.

In 1984 she had been honored as a YWCA Woman of the Achievement.

In her “spare” time, she organized and chaired Governor Robert D. Ray’s Commission on the Status of Women, was the State Chair of ERA of Iowa, sat on boards of Interstate Association of Commissions of Status of Women, Children and Families of Iowa, Interfaith Alliance of Iowa, and Des Moines Pastoral Counseling Center.

In talking with your Director Emeritus, Ellery Duke, I found out how our Mother began her relationship with Des Moines Pastoral Counseling Center.  Although he didn’t remember who had recommended for her to come on the Board, it was her knowledge of personnel issues which made her a valuable asset to Ellery and the Center.  She and the Personnel Committee of the Board reviewed the employment handbook and helped make sure the Center was complying with employment rules and regulations.  Ellery said he relied on her for her expertise in the area of Human Resources.

When her term as a regular board member was coming to an end, she wanted to become a Foundation Board member and did so.  Which she then became the President of.  A former employee here recalls our Mother’s tremendous organizational skills and the follow-up she provided.  She always had an agenda ready for the meeting and provided typed minutes to the Board members thereafter.  Although no longer the President, Mother was an active member of the Foundation Board during the time of the Capital Campaign which resulted in the facility we are in now.   And, fortunately, she was able to live the benefits of this new facility through partaking in the therapy services herself and personally knowing that others were receiving the help they needed.

A little insight into her private life: She had her hair done weekly. She would not go anywhere without her lipstick on.  She had a passion for fine jewelry and Persian rugs.  When most people walk into a room they notice the walls, the furniture and maybe the lighting.  Our mother walked in with her head down, inspecting what covering was on the floors.  She collected teacups and saucers.  She loved eggs made out of all kinds of substances; stone, malachite, porcelain, glass…  She felt that eggs were a representation of life’s renewal.  She studied and educated herself on various religions. Oh, and she was a published author at age 90.  She wrote “Sanity after Seventy, a humorous and poignant look at life in the very mature years….by a woman who is living them.”

At times she was quite haughty and a snob.  She was almost the spitting image of Queen Elizabeth II and in our family, she WAS the Queen. But she was a very loving mother, grandmother and great-grandmother. She was an excellent role model for women and she had an adage for us: if you join a group and don’t like how it is run, either quit or take it over!

Our Mother was a huge believer in education and in helping others.  She had a deep sense of faith.  Ellery Duke told me that Mother was especially pleased with Des Moines Pastoral Counseling because of your ability to integrate spirituality and human need.  This bequest to Des Moines Pastoral Counseling was not a last minute decision nor was it made lightly.  I was her attorney for many years and every time we dealt with her estate planning, she made sure that she would be providing for this Center.  And as such, our Mother presents to you a check.


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