Betty Jean Kircher, 93, passed away Monday, December 23, 2019 at St. Luke's Hospice in Cedar Rapids.
A celebration of life is being planned for in the Spring of 2020. The Henderson-Barker Funeral Home in West Branch is caring for the family. Online condolences may be made to the family at www.hendersonbarkerfuneralhome.com. Memorials may be directed to Betty Jean Kircher Memorial Fund c/o Henderson-Barker Funeral Home, PO Box 206, West Branch, Iowa 52358.
Betty Jean Sorensen was born August 7, 1926, in Oasis, IA, the parents of Alvin and Alice (Moore) Sorensen. After her mother Alice passed away in 1931, Alvin then married Thelma.
Betty graduated from West Branch, Iowa, High School, and earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Education from the University of Iowa. Betty was also a proud Iowa cheerleader during her years at the University of Iowa.
Betty married Robert Dean Kircher on August 21, 1946.
She was an instructor in the Moline, IL, public schools for five years. After moving to Horicon, Wisconsin, in 1962, she held roles as an instructor, coordinator and supervisor at Moraine Park Technical College (MPTC) in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin for 25 years.
She also completed graduate work in Special Education and Psychology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Betty facilitated support groups for prison families and parents of handicapped children; and adult peer counseling groups for seniors in cooperation with hospital, college and county Human Resources agencies.
She developed a state-approved curriculum and taught mentally challenged adult classes at the Community Mental Health Center. She also taught handicapped and disadvantaged adults at MPTC.
She also facilitated adult teacher instructional in-services for a staff of 50 on a quarterly basis. She established a consortium between MPTC and the University of Wisconsin - Fond du Lac for adult-parent-child college-level classes and developed the curriculum which was used.
Betty also taught Food Service, Nutrition and Family Living classes at MPTC.
Betty served 15 years on Wisconsin county boards, including a joint conference committee overseeing medical and psychiatric staff of the Community Mental Health Center.
She fostered and promoted a day treatment program for mentally challenged adults and other handicapped adults, which was self-supporting.
Betty facilitated a Mental Health Advisory Committee that obtained funding and implemented the first co-ed residential treatment facility in Dodge County, Wisconsin, with a crisis bed component for 12 adults.
She was a charter volunteer member of the Dodge County, Wisconsin Social Services Committee that implemented the first boys' group home in the County for delinquent and pre-delinquent boys from ages 11 to 17.
Upon moving back to Iowa in June 2002, Betty completed 30 hours of in-service training related to Dementia and Alzheimer's caregiver training.
Betty was awarded the Governor's Award for Meritorious service in Mental Health in Wisconsin. Her biography has appeared in the "World Who's Who of Women" for outstanding achievements for community and state achievements and "Personalities of the West and Midwest”.
Betty was proceeded in death by parents Alvin and Alice (Moore) Sorensen, step-mother Thelma (Moore) Sorensen, her husband Robert Kircher, and daughter-in-law Christine (Rettler) Kircher.
Betty is survived by children, Barbara A. (Kircher) Flouro and her husband Kenneth Flouro, Ladysmith, WI and James A. Kircher, and his wife, Jeanie (Huinker) Kircher, Iowa City, IA. Betty is also survived by five grandchildren: Tonya Catlin, Larsen, WI, Aaron (Melisa) Flouro, Denver, IA, Jacob Kircher, Des Moines, IA, Benjamin Kircher, Houston, TX, and Anna Kircher, Oakland, CA, four step-grandchildren: Christina Sullivan, Chicago, IL, Carley Sullivan, Des Moines, IA, Daniel Sullivan, Sicily, Italy, and Claire Sullivan, and five great-grandchildren: Carter Catlin, Harmony Grace Flouro-Hay, and Mallory, Evan, and Madilynn Flouro.
Betty was an active member of United Methodist Church in Marion, IA.
Services are being planned for Spring 2020, details will be announced later.