Betty Mathilda Bredehoft, wife of Willis Willard Bredehoft, was called to her eternal rest on February 6, 2021. She was 103 years old. “Unser Gott Unsere Hilfe in vergangenen Zeiten”
Betty, born January 8, 1918, in Homestead Iowa was baptized Berta Mathilde Gesine Wolter to the Rev. Friedrich (Fred) and Ida Wolter. She grew up in a church parsonage setting surrounded by miles of corn fields. Betty attended St. John’s Elementary School, a rural Lutheran school connected to her father’s parish, from kindergarten through grade eight.
Both of her parents’ families immigrated from Germany when they were young. Betty was the youngest of their twelve children: six boys and six girls. German was the language spoken at home and in church. Hence the German title of one of her favorite hymns, begins and finishes her life, “Our God Our Help in Ages Past”. The hymn effectively served as a guide for her life and a legacy of faith that she leaves her family and friends. God is our Hope for years to come. Jesus died to save sinners, so we who believe will one day join the departed saints in heaven.
Betty inherited her father’s talent and zeal for instruction in school, but especially in music.
Betty’s mother, Ida, while raising twelve children managed a large farm-like garden with poultry, two cows, and two to three pigs for butchering. She taught all six of her daughters to sew. She rose at five o’clock every summer morning to begin cooking for her visiting children and their families. All the while supporting her husband’s ministry in spreading the Gospel to the farming communities he served. Betty inherited her mother’s work ethic, gentle strength, and godly wisdom.
Her fondest reminiscing’s of these early years included the arrival of summer when most of her siblings, their spouses, and their children came to her parent’s home for a few weeks to visit. There were fourteen to seventeen around the dinner table. The summer nights spent outside on the porch, due to the extreme house heat, included tales of the joys and trials of teaching and professional church work from her older brothers and sisters. Nine of her siblings became Lutheran schoolteachers. These sibling stories inspired her to also become a Lutheran teacher. She looked forward to her sisters’ summer visits when they sewed their clothes or re-designed hand-me-downs for the following school year on an old treadmill sewing machine. She enjoyed the sibling camaraderie of these productive summer vacations.
Her oldest sister Flora gave piano lessons to her and her older siblings. Betty became an accomplished pianist, being able to play Bach and Liszt before going to Concordia High School and College in Seward, Nebraska starting there in the ninth grade. She traveled by train to spend the high school and college terms in Seward, returning for holidays and summers by train to Homestead. Her brother-in-law Diedrich always met and transported her and any other sibling at the train depot to the Homestead parsonage. She received her high school diploma in 1935 and her teaching degree from Concordia Teachers College (now Concordia University) at Seward in 1939. For her college organ recital in the spring of 1939, she played a Bach duet with a fellow student, then three solo pieces by Franck, Bach, and Guilmant. After college graduation, she took her first teaching assignment in Peoria, Illinois, teaching grades one through four with eighteen students. She left this position to marry.
Betty met her husband, Willis, while attending the Concordia’s in Seward. They married on June 27, 1943, at St. John’s Lutheran Church in Homestead, Iowa. Their happy marriage produced nine children: seven sons and two daughters. Betty firmly believed in the Biblical position of a wife regarding her husband. She humbly accepted her role of supportive wife but underneath that gentle exterior was a woman who exuded strength and godly wisdom. As a mother, she supported her nine children with unconditional love, maintaining order and discipline with firmness and love. She was always Christ to her family. As her husband served in various church or church association schools (Michigan, California, and Hawaii), she provided a loving home culture. Betty taught all nine children to play piano. Throughout her marriage she sewed her own dresses and suits as well as teaching her two daughters to sew. During this time, she worked as a church organist, choir accompanist, or both in various congregations in the various cities where her husband worked. She also offered piano lessons in her home until the age of ninety.
She served as president of the Lutheran Women’s Missionary League at St. John’s Lutheran Church in Orange, CA. Many times, she led their meeting devotions. She regularly attended church Bible classes and was a member of that church for fifty-two years.
Besides playing organ, piano and sewing, Betty enjoyed keeping a large summer garden and cooking. There was a constant supply of homemade cookies or date bars available to her children and grandchildren. The fact that they were often hidden attests to their delicious nature.
Betty is survived by eight children John (Donna), David (Krista), Joyce, Paul, George (Laurie), Terry (Janet), Tom (Carmen), and Steven (Jackie); seventeen grandchildren; sixteen great-grandchildren, one great-great grandchild and numerous nieces and nephews.
Betty is proceeded in death by her parents, her eleven siblings, her husband Willis, her daughter Nancy, and her daughter-in-law Linda.
In lieu of flowers, the family suggests a donation to one of the Memorial Donation funds listed below.
Concordia University, Seward, Nebraska - Church Work Scholarships Fund
Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, MO
St. John’s Lutheran School, Orange, CA