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Atypical alumna values education, established giving pattern early.
by Mary Denny
Betty Child and her husband, Don, were not typical college students. They had been married ten years, had two children, had moved to Wyoming and back to San Antonio, and Don had served two years overseas during the Korean Conflict. “It had taken that long for us to realize we would be better off with more education,” she recalls. But thanks to the timing and a suggestion from a junior college dean, the couple earned matching bachelor’s and master’s degrees and have become one of Trinity University’s longest-giving and most devoted donor couples.
While working full time, Betty and Don enrolled together at San Antonio Junior College and completed the two-year program in four years. As they were nearing their graduation, the dean asked them where they planned to continue their undergraduate education. Betty admits they had not given any thought to continuing on, so the dean told them about Trinity University, which at the time was the only co-ed college in San Antonio. “It was the late 50s and millions of World War II veterans were returning to civilian life eager to complete their educations with help from the GI Bill,” she recalls. The result was a backlog of applicants. To address the situation, Trinity, like many other schools, enlisted their faculty to offer evening and Saturday classes. The dean offered to call his friend at Trinity, who agreed to come in on Saturday and register Betty and her husband. “And that is how we decided to come to Trinity,” she says with a smile. It proved to be a fortuitous decision.
Armed with her bachelor’s of art degree, Betty embarked on an impressive career in education. She taught in the San Antonio Independent School District for 10 years—the latter five in Special Education—while earning her master’s in education degree. Recognizing her talent, the Educational Service Center, Region 20 (ESC-Region 20)—an educational service organization arm of the Texas Education Agency—invited Betty to work on a summer project. Within a few weeks she was offered and accepted a consultant position.
In the early years of her 20-year tenure with ESC-Region 20, Betty worked with the special education section then rotated to other sections. She especially enjoyed helping schools design reading programs through the Right to Read Effort, planning and helping implement the Gifted and Talented Program, and developing instructional materials used in many districts. Simultaneously, she earned her doctorate of education degree from Nova University in 1984.
Meanwhile, thanks to his Trinity economics and accounting degrees, Don’s civil service career as a division chief at Kelly Field flourished and he enjoyed applying his business acumen as private stock market investor.
“Not long after receiving our Trinity degrees, we started to realize how much we had received from Trinity,” recounts Betty. “Salaries improved, we were able to buy a larger home, and do more for our family.” When the Childs received a request for a donation the year after they graduated, they responded promptly and “ever since we have made a yearly donation,” she says proudly. Those 50-plus years of loyalty and annual support have earned them recognition as Trinity True, a designation for Trinity supporters with a history of continuous annual giving over a number of years.
When their daughter Linda was ready for college, she wanted to go to Trinity “but only if she could live in a dorm.” Even though they lived in San Antonio and their daughter could have lived less expensively at home, “we knew that was a part of college life we missed and we wanted her to have that experience,” explains Betty. Like her mother and father before her, Linda earned both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Trinity and became a teacher and counselor in the Northeast Independent School District.
About seven years ago, Linda Child Naim and her children expressed their own gratitude, and honored her parents by establishing an endowed scholarship in their name. Betty and Don have added to it annually. The annual scholarship is awarded to a business or economics major one year and to a student planning on a career in education the following year.
Sadly, Betty lost her husband after 69 years, three years ago and acknowledges that it has been a period of adjustment. Still a dedicated educator, she tutors at a nearby elementary school and spends time with family and friends. She enjoys reading, delving into family genealogy, and is active in church activities and her chapter of The Daughters of the American Revolution, and she remains close to Trinity.
You can contact Betty at drbchild30 [at] sbcglobal.net