Elizabeth Anna “Betty Ann” Borchers was born in Wharton on June 21, 1931, and passed away with her family by her side on Feb. 5, 2020, at the age of 88.
Betty Ann grew up in the W.A. Harrison Building on the courthouse square in Wharton, built by her father in 1912. She graduated with honors from Wharton High School in 1949, and attended Texas Christian University and Wharton County Junior College before enrolling at The University of Texas at Austin, where she was a member of Alpha Delta Pi. Betty Ann graduated in 1953 with a bachelor of science in elementary education and a minor in library science.
Betty Ann married Otto Robert “Jimmy” Borchers, of Yoakum, on Aug. 29, 1953. She taught first grade in Wharton for one year while Otto was stationed at Frances E. Warren Air Force Base in Cheyenne, Wyoming, and one year in Englewood, Colorado, while Otto was stationed at Lowry Air Force Base in Denver, Colorado. After moving to Yoakum in 1956, she earned a master of education from Southwest Texas State Teachers College in 1959.
A dedicated wife, mother, teacher, librarian, and community volunteer, Betty taught in the Yoakum Independent School District for 32 years and was active in many civic activities. After serving as a classroom teacher for 20 years, she returned to the University of Texas at Austin in 1982 at the age of 51 and received a certification in library science. She served as the primary and elementary school librarian for 13 years before her retirement. Betty fondly remembered teaching several generations of students and enjoyed the parents of children returning to her classroom to say, “You taught me too, Mrs. Borchers.” She loved her students and many recall her as their favorite teacher. She followed her former students throughout their lives, stressing the importance of education to them as she did to her own children. She took great pleasure in purchasing her former students’ animals at the Yoakum Livestock Show, and was a lifelong supporter of the Yoakum and Hope Livestock shows.
Betty was a tireless volunteer and served on the board of directors of the Carl and Mary Welhausen Library, the Yoakum Heritage Museum, and Bluebonnet Youth Ranch, where she was a surrogate parent. She served on the Advisory Council of the South Texas Library System and Holy Cross Lutheran Church Congregational Council, and was an active member of the Daughters of the American Revolution, the United Daughters of the Confederacy, the Progressive Study Club, Pilot Club of Yoakum, and the Victoria County Master Gardener Association. As a member of Delta Kappa Gamma, an honorary organization for educators, Betty coordinated Books For Babies, a project that promotes literacy by giving first-time parents books and encouraging them to read to their babies. A cancer survivor, Betty was a member of the board of directors of the American Cancer Society in Yoakum, the chairman of Relay for Life and a Road to Recovery driver. She donated more strawberry cheesecakes for community auctions than one could begin to count.
In 1989, Betty served as the chairman of Clean Yoakum, a project to beautify Yoakum. As the winner of the Governor’s Community Achievement Award, Yoakum received a $30,000 grant from the Texas Department of Transportation to beautify the city. Betty was recognized for her community service with the Yoakum Chamber of Commerce Paul F. Gustwick Community Service Award in 2001 and the South Texas Woman Award in 2002.
A lifelong sports fan, Betty held season tickets for more than 40 years to the University of Texas football games and rarely missed a game. She also faithfully followed pro football and basketball games. To the amazement of her family and her caregivers, she knew players’ names, their positions, their numbers, their families, their personal and professional challenges, and their triumphs.
Betty had fond memories of summers and Christmases with her family and beloved grandchildren in Crested Butte, Colorado. She delighted in driving her mother’s 1959 Thunderbird in Yoakum Tom-Tom parades, and visiting the ranch and her family land in Wharton to see the land, the cattle, and the crops.
Betty was preceded in death by her parents William Alexander Harrison and Elizabeth Hroch Harrison; two brothers: James Burr Harrison and William “Willie” Alexander Harrison; her sister Virginia Lou Harrison; and a nephew Wes Boling Harrison.
She is survived by her husband Otto Robert “Jimmy” Borchers; daughters: Rebecca Bolling Borchers of Austin and Elizabeth Borchers Bruns (John) of Nashville, Tennessee; and grandchildren: Abigail Bolling Bruns, William
Harrison Bruns, John Henry Bruns and Caroline Elizabeth Bruns. She also leaves a sister Mary Rebecca Gardner-Johnson of Houston; sister-in-law Leonean Hunt Harrison of Houston; a brother-in-law Marion (Jack) Borchers (Robbie); and 12 nieces and nephews.
Pallbearers will be Robert John Bruns, William Harrison Bruns, John Henry Bruns, William Robert Borchers, T. Charles Borchers, Harrison Stafford, Burr Stafford, Harold Miller, Chris Sefton, Norman Manning, and Larry Woodruff.
Honorary pallbearers include Marion (Jack) Borchers, Vivian Miller, current and former board of directors and employees of Yoakum National Bank, and ranch cowboys and hands including Cole Applegate, Cale Applegate, Larry Brown, Patrick Gordon, Arthur Harris, Hayne Hermes, Chance Koenning, Daron Moore, Kenneth Pavliska, Mack Terry, and Ricky Vinklarek.
The family would like to thank devoted caregivers, Cindy Kelley, Debbie Rodriquez, Dominga Hise, Marcy Smith, Susan Machart, Gail Fishbeck, Roxi Day, and Deshorn Smith; physicians, Dr. James Drost, and Dr. John Eichelberger, of Houston Medical Clinic; Amy Barton, F.N.P., and the nurses, physical therapists, and respiratory therapists at Yoakum Community Hospital, who lovingly and faithfully cared for our mother.
Visitation was held from 5-7 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 10, at Thiele-Cooper Funeral Home, 1477 Carl Ramert Drive, in Yoakum.
Funeral services were Tuesday, Feb. 11 at Holy Cross Lutheran Church, U.S. Highway 77A South, in Yoakum, with the Rev. Alsen Wenzel officiating. Burial followed at Oak Grove Cemetery.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be given to the Carl and Mary Welhausen Library, 810 Front Street, Yoakum, 77995; Bluebonnet Youth Ranch, P.O. Box 90, Yoakum, 77995; Holy Cross Lutheran Church, P.O. Box 647, Yoakum, 77995; Yoakum Heritage Museum, P.O. Box 2, Yoakum, 77995; or the Betty Ann Borchers College Scholarship Fund at Yoakum National Bank, P.O. Box 777, Yoakum, 77995.
Arrangements were by Thiele Cooper Funeral Home, 361-293-5656.