Elizabeth “Betty” Chase started serving Evangel University (then College) in 1953, two years before the first students arrived on campus. She retired in 2007.
As Evangel’s longest-serving employee, Miss Chase will be one of two alumni recognized at the 2017 Homecoming Celebration, during EU’s annual Trees of Honor ceremony.
She will be honored along with Dr. George Wood, a 1962 graduate and General Superintendent of the General Council of the Assemblies of God, and his wife, Jewel (Waite ’64) on Friday, Oct. 6, 2017, at 4 p.m.
During the ceremony, a dedication will be held for the new “Pioneer Commons,” a brick and bench retreat area shaded by the Chase and Wood trees and named in honor of the early students who took classes from 1955 to 1965. The commons is located on the north side of the Cantrell Student Union.
Trees of Honor
The Trees of Honor project began as an idea formed by a small group of graduates from the early 1960s and took root following Springfield’s great ice storm of 2007. The idea was to help replace lost trees and restore the natural beauty of the campus.
Trees have been planted on Evangel’s campus in acknowledgement of the legacy of service each of the recipients has provided to the university. An engraved bronze plaque is placed at the base of each tree as a permanent tribute to the person being honored.
Evangel’s “Institutional Treasure”
Betty Chase had 56 years of affiliation with Evangel, dating back to before there was a College.
She was well-known as Evangel’s writer, editor, and director of media relations and Vision magazine, prior to being asked to establish the University’s archives in 1988.
In 2003 the Evangel University campus celebrated Betty’s 77th birthday with a presentation from the Board of Administration. A framed certificate was presented to Betty, “in appreciation for outstanding service during the span of six decades at Evangel University. Recognizing your commitment, dedication, skills, resourcefulness, and untiring attention to detail, we hereby bestow upon you the title of ‘Institutional Treasure.’”
Chase retired in 2007, and continued to serve as a volunteer for two more years. She passed away in 2011 at the age of 84
“Betty Chase was one of Evangel University’s greatest assets,” said Dr. Robert H. Spence, who served as president of Evangel from 1974 to 2014.
“Her wealth of knowledge was a resource of inestimable value,” he said at the time of her passing. “She had the opportunity to observe Evangel from the time that it was a vision to its present status. We are deeply indebted to her for her years of dedicated service to the Lord, His Church and to Evangel.”
In 1986, the Evangel Alumni Association honored Chase with its Distinguished Service Award.
Helping History Unfold
In 1950, Chase moved from Ames, Iowa, to Springfield to work for the General Council of the Assemblies of God. She began working as assistant to Dr. J. Robert Ashcroft in September 1953, after the Assemblies of God authorized the development of a new national college of arts and sciences.
At the time of her retirement, Chase recalled, “The Rev. Ralph M. Riggs, then-general superintendent of the Assemblies of God, immediately appointed the Rev. Ashcroft as director of the Department of Education and assigned him to put in motion the process of founding Evangel.”
“The first Evangel College board meeting was held in May 1954,” she said. “Later that year, we were able to obtain the O’Reilly Hospital property on Glenstone to build the Evangel campus.”
Chase began working at Evangel part time in 1958, when Ashcroft was named president of both Evangel and Central Bible College. She became a full-time member of the Evangel staff in 1960, serving as public relations representative and as Ashcroft’s secretary.
From 1964-1987, she served as Evangel’s full-time writer, editor and media relations person.
In January 1988, Chase became the first official archivist of Evangel University. She started with boxes of documents and photographs that she organized according to basic archival principles. Her first assignments were conducting oral history interviews with individuals who had a part in the founding and early years of Evangel.
She also was assigned the task of gathering historical information about O’Reilly General Hospital — the WWII Army hospital and post WWII Veterans Administration hospital located on the property that became home to Evangel, the Developmental Center of the Ozarks, the Army National Guard and Smith Park.
The Springfield-Greene County Library has utilized Chase’s extensive research into O’Reilly General Hospital at http://thelibrary.springfield.missouri.org/lochist/oreilly/index.cfm
“Today, Evangel has an outstanding archives due to her careful, meticulous work,” said Shirley Shedd, who served as EU’s second archivist, after retiring as chair of the Department of Communication.
In 2009, the University Board of Directors named the archives the Betty A. Chase Evangel University Archives to honor the work she had done.
“Betty was without doubt the most amazing person with whom I’ve worked in my 35 years at Evangel,” said Woodvall Moore, retired director of library and media services. “She had a remarkable memory, and everything she produced was absolutely accurate in every detail.”
She also had a heart for ministering to others.
For 17 years, Chase had a state foster home license and provided a home for teenage girls who were in foster care. Later, she provided housing for students from Evangel and the Assemblies of God Theological Seminary.
A Life of Learning
A lifetime student, she began taking classes at Evangel in the spring of 1956, the second semester of the school’s existence. In 1994, she graduated magna cum laude from Evangel with a Bachelor of Arts degree in history and minors in communication and social studies.
She is the only person to have taken classes at Evangel in every decade from the 1950s to the 1990s.
One unique aspect of Betty’s college work was that she fulfilled the language requirement by studying Korean. Although Evangel does not offer Korean as a course of study, beginning at the age of 60, Chase took lessons from Korean friends and attended a Korean church.
A highlight of her life was attending the 1988 Summer Olympics in Korea with her sister Doris Cascio. They stayed in the home of a Korean friend who was a student at Evangel.
Chase also loved to read, especially historical books, and she always welcomed a challenge at a game of Scrabble. She was also an avid supporter of Evangel sports, especially basketball and football, and attended games whenever possible.
“Photography was both a hobby and work skill for Chase,” according to Shedd. “She took many of the early photos of Evangel and other college activities.”
For additional information, contact Paul K. Logsdon at 417-865-2815, ext. 7292.
Crafted from 04/18/2011 obituary – Shirley Shedd, Paul K. Logsdon, Cassie McDaniel