Betty Jean Hirschi Bienz, 93, of Pullman, our beloved mother and grandmother, passed away Sunday, Feb. 14, 2021, at the Avalon Care Center in Pullman.
Betty was born April 15, 1927, at Montpelier, Idaho, the youngest of seven children of William and Marianna (Seiler) Hirschi. Betty attended school in Montpelier and graduated from high school as class valedictorian. She attended Brigham Young University where she received her bachelor’s degree in English, and then taught school in Utah for a year. On June 15, 1950, Betty married Darrel Rudolph Bienz in the Logan, Utah, LDS Temple, and together they moved to Ithaca, N.Y., where Darrel pursued his Ph.D. in plant breeding at Cornell University. Betty supported him in this endeavor, and they began raising a growing family.
Upon completion of Darrel’s graduate degree, the family moved to Moscow, where Darrel taught at the University of Idaho. The family then moved to Aberdeen, Idaho, where Darrel worked for the USDA doing potato research, and Betty taught high school for several years. In 1959, Darrel was recruited to join the faculty at Washington State University, and the family moved to Pullman. Pullman remained Betty’s home for the rest of her life.
Betty attended graduate school at Washington State University, obtained her teaching certificate, and subsequently taught fifth grade in the Pullman School District. She transitioned her career, working with the Washington State University Library system until she retired as the head librarian for the Agricultural Sciences Library in 1993. She worked with many international WSU students and faculty and taught English as a second language.
Throughout their lives, Betty and Darrel traveled extensively, both in the United States and internationally. They and their five children camped through Europe en route to Izmir, Turkey, where Darrel taught at Ege University on a Fulbright Scholarship and Betty worked as a substitute teacher at the U.S. military high school for a year. They spent four months in Hawaii, followed by travel to the Philippines, Taiwan, Malaysia, Thailand and India. They resided in Bonjabaru, Borneo (Indonesia), for a year, spent six months in Puerto Rico, and toured China. After retirement, their travel destinations included Egypt, Russia, Australia, New Zealand, Central and South America. They also served an LDS mission to Fiji, where Betty served as librarian while Darrel taught at the Church College of Fiji.
Betty was a lifelong member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and her faith was integral to her life. She was active in all areas of the Pullman Sunnyside Ward. She loved music and enjoyed singing, and she and Darrel frequently welcomed friends, family and international visitors to their home to share dinner and friendship.
Betty loved her family. Betty is survived by her children, Stephen (Vivian) Bienz, of Providence, Utah; Robert Bienz, of Seattle; Marianne Febach, of Olympia; Bart Bienz of Richland; two grandsons, Bryant (Vanessa) Bienz and Bryce (Krysta) Bienz; and sister-in-law Carol Hirschi. She was preceded in death by her husband, Darrel, in 2015; her son, Karl, in 1981, son-in-law Ed Febach in 1999; and her six siblings.
A visitation for family and friends will be held from 5-7 p.m. Thursday at Kimball Funeral Home. A graveside service will be held at 11 a.m. Friday, at the Pullman Cemetery. Social distancing and mask protocols will be observed at both.
Kimball Funeral Home of Pullman has been entrusted with arrangements. Online condolences may be sent to www.kimballfh.com.