Betty Jean Gerhart (nee Dietrich), 85, of Elyria, passed away Friday, August 23, 2013, at the Cleveland Clinic, following a sudden illness. She was born December 7, 1927 on the dining room table at her family home in Lorain, the daughter of the late Otto and Lena Dietrich (nee Cushman). She worked in her uncle’s bakery as a teenager and attended Lorain High School, where she loved to sing. She performed in the Senior Choir as a Junior and also sang and danced (tap and toe) at The Palace Theatre in Lorain. Upon marrying, she moved to North Ridgeville, where she and her husband lived in the basement while they built their home. She truck farmed there and delivered geraniums with one arm while holding her baby son in the other. She also recovered from polio at this time.
Betty Jean was a co-founder of Luxury Heating Company and moved to Sheffield in 1956, where she worked in the family business, was President of the PTA for Brookside High School, and was a Brownie troop leader. She later moved to Elyria in 1969 and got her realtor’s license and worked for a short time for Dempsey Realty in Elyria. She also survived a brain tumor at the age of 42, one of the first to be detected by the CAT scan at the Cleveland Clinic.
Betty Jean volunteered at Elyria Memorial Hospital and with the American Red Cross. She enjoyed family vacations to Indian Rocks Beach, Florida, and later to Treasure Island, Florida. She loved the sun, beach and water and, in later years, walking at Burr Oak Metropark in Elyria. She especially loved her family and babysitting her grandchildren.
Mrs. Gerhart is survived by her son, Darrell; two daughters, Gayle Manning (the late Jeff Manning) and Donna Birkby (Stuart); five grandchildren; and four great grandchildren; and her beloved cat, Sweetpea.
Friends may call at the Busch Funeral Home, 32000 Detroit Road, Avon, from 10 A.M., until time of services at 11 A.M., on Tuesday, August 27, 2013. Busch Certified Celebrant, Barbara Habecker, will officiate. Interment will follow at Ridge Hill Memorial Park, Amherst Township.