Betty Jean Brooks Miller
Betty Jean Brooks Miller was a long-time member of the Junior League, on the board of the Community Foundation and a member of Queen of Peace Catholic Church. She died at age 82.
“I spent about two hours with her the morning she died,” said her husband Dorr Miller. “A precious woman, I can tell you that.”
Betty Jean was born in Milwaukee, Dec. 1, 1916. Her parents were Lewis Brooks and Marguerite Peil Brooks. There were three boys and two girls in the family. Their mother died in 1926 while they were still young, so Betty Jean, 10, and Charlotte, 6 were sent to Sacred Heart Academy, a boarding school in Lake Forest, Ill. and the boys were sent to a military academy. Betty Jean graduated from high school in 1935.
Her next step was to marry James Carrier. Two children were born to this union, Marguerite and Jeanne. In 1963 they moved to El Paso and were only here three weeks when James passed away.
Betty Jean’s sister, Charlotte, said. “After the war my husband was recalled and I did not want to live here with nothing to do, so in 1948 I started a gift shop on the Eastside and called it Charlotte’s. Betty Jean helped me, and later we moved the store to its present location.”
In 1968 Betty Jean married Hart Ponder, a member of an El Paso pioneer family. He also passed away. Her four stepchildren were Susan Ponder McNamara, Jean Ponder Soto, William Ponder of Santa Barbara, Calif., and Pete Ponder (deceased).
After the death of her second husband, Betty Jean made a trip to Italy to visit her daughter, Jeanne. While in Europe, she and Mary O’Boyle Connor agreed to meet in Paris and do some sight-seeing.
“She had been my friend from boarding school days over 70 years ago,” Mary said. “I had been in London when we decided to meet. I will never forget the wonderful time we had as we drove through France. Betty Jean would be a good role model for young people today. Her philosophy of life was to always do the best you can every day and let the rest of life take care of itself.”
Betty Jean married a third time, to Dorr Miller.
“I had known Betty Jean because her sister Charlotte was on the Chamber of Commerce Board when I was president,” Dorr said. “One evening at a dinner party the host came to Betty Jean and said, ‘You are sitting in the wrong place,’ and moved her by me. The sparks immediately began to fly. We were married May 17, 1990.”
When asked about her hobbies, Betty Jean’s grandson, Jimmy Baldwin, said, “She loved to dance. I called her ‘Betty Jean, the dancing machine.’”
“She was a multifaceted person,” said her daughter Jeanne. “She sang in high school, did some painting, cooking, gardening, played bridge and tried all the water sports. When I think of my mother, the word stalwart comes to mind. She was a vibrant participant in life and had enormous courage and stamina to fight adversity. She was intelligent, generous and a perpetrator of hugs and kisses.”
Frannie Axelson said: “Betty Jean was a kind, loyal, happy, and lovely friend. We were among the first members of the Coronado Country Club Association and have been members for over 50 years.”
Betty Jean will be remembered by her bridge group buddies.
“We were all just crushed to hear of Betty Jean’s death,” said Betty Tabor. “She was the most fun-loving person and just loved everybody— she oozed love. Five of us played bridge together every Wednesday for 25 years.”
She was on the board of the Christ Child Society, and was interested in the Light House for the Blind and the Texas Commission for the Blind.
“During the last year of her life Betty Jean was legally blind,” Dorr said. “And she had a seeing-eye dog — me!”
She died the morning of July 2. Her memorial was held at Queen of Peace Catholic Church with Monsignor William Ryan officiating. She was preceded in death by her daughter Marguerite Carrier Barnard, and her brothers, Louis Brooks and Edward Brooks. She is survived by her husband Dorr M. Miller and their combined families: daughter Jeanne Carrier, sister Charlotte Korth, and brother Bob Brooks of Madison, Wis., stepsons James N. Miller and Ronald D. Miller, five grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.
“I am a better person for having loved and lived with Betty Jean,” Dorr said.
Lt. Col. Alexander (Alex) H. Bernhard
Retired Army Lt. Col. Alexander (Alex) H. Bernhard, a certified public accountant in El Paso for 33 years, a veteran wounded in the Battle of the Bulge in World War II, a member of the Honorable Order of Kentucky Colonels, the Kiwanis club, and deacon of First Presbyterian Church, died at age 79.
His grandfather lived in Germany near the border of Poland where he operated a mercantile business. His grandfather’s family migrated to Texas and settled in Seguin. Alex was born Nov. 14, 1919, the son of Alexander H. Bernhard Sr. and Alice Vaughan Bernhard. Four older sisters were born to this union.
Alex attended high school in Seguin where he was at the top of his class. He played drums in the band and was a receiver in football. In 1939 he graduated from the University of Texas with a BBA degree in finance and accounting. Following graduation he worked in San Antonio for a time, and in 1942 enlisted in the U.S. Army. He attended Officer Candidate School for field artillery and was deployed to Europe. Bernhard’s son, John Allen Bernhard, who is president of J.A. Bernhard Constructon Co., tells the story of his father’s gallantry for which he was awarded the Silver Star and two Purple Hearts:
“On D-Day, June 6, 1944, my dad was leaving Boston at the same time ships were landing on Normandy beaches. A couple of weeks later my father’s unit was headed toward Roth, Belgium. My father was a reconnaissance officer and forward observer with the 275th Armored Battalion. He had gone forward with a five-man party to search for enemy positions. They were isolated in a school house. Realizing that capture was imminent, he radioed back the enemy positions he had discovered. An American artillery barrage was laid down on their positions. He was wounded by the very artillery he had ordered.”
Lieutenant Bernhard was captured by the Germans Dec. 16, 1944. They held him in a prisoner-of-war camp for the duration of the war.
“In April of 1945 he was in the same POW camp with the son of Gen. George S. Patton,” John said. “When they arrived at the camp, the men were told that only 200 of them could be released since they only had vehicles enough for that many. My Dad was not a part of the group chosen, but was one of those left. The Germans, not knowing what to do with them, placed them in a railroad cattle car near Munich until the Americans found them.”
In April of 1947, he married Josephine Ralston, whom he had met in college during a Sigma Nu fraternity party. In 1949 he was recalled back to service with an armored battalion. They landed at Inchon, Korea, and were involved with the fighting at Chosin Reservoir after the Chinese crossed the Yalu River.
“He had an aversion to snow and ice,” John said, “and was glad when he was transferred to Schofield Barracks in Hawaii. His duties changed from artillery to finance.”
He remained in the armed services with assignments in Oklahoma, Ohio, Indiana and Fort Bliss.
“They were still in Hawaii when my mother’s aunt called about the birth of a child (Oct. 12, 1957) ready for adoption and said, “Come and get him.”
It took my Mom about a week to get to Fort Worth. As I grew older, my parents told me I was adopted, but I’ve never wanted to look for my roots.”
They were in El Paso in 1959 when Bernhard became finance officer at Fort Bliss. He was again summoned to Korea.
“In 1966 he could foresee another war coming in Vietnam,” John said. “He had his time in, so he made the move to retire.”
When asked how his father’s military career affected his own life while he was a child, John said, “That whole generation is to be commended for growing up during a world depression and being in the midst of it as well as a world war, giving us what we have today — comparative peace and prosperity. My hat is off to today’s armed forces stationed in far away places.”
Alex died Aug. 6, after a short illness. Funeral services were held at the First Presbyterian Church followed by interment at Fort Bliss National Cemetery with military honors. He was preceded in death by his wife Josephine and his sisters Dorothy, Ida Mae and Frances. He is survived by his son John Allen Bernhard, daughter-in-law Hadley Huchton Bernhard, and sister Gene Brandenberger.
Ernest Randolph Kastl
Ernest Randolph Kastl had just returned from his second internship, working as an engineer with NASA in Houston, when he was a passenger in a fatal automobile accident from which he did not recover. He was 23.
Bob Adams of Johnson Space Center said, “I read more than 1,000 resumes and Ernest was the one I hired for internship. I needed a hands-on type person to help train astronauts for space walks. He developed and wrote instructions and procedures to use in space. He was creative, resourceful and proved to be a valuable help to our program.”
“I didn’t know they made young people like Ernest anymore. He was almost too good to be true,” said Doug Hamilton, a retired Air Force officer whose daughter Dana was Ernest’s fiancee. “Dana and Ernest were an inseparable, unbeatable pair. Most fathers with a pretty daughter try to keep the guys away. Instead I hoped he would stay around. I knew that Dana would always be well cared for with Ernest at her side.”
Daphne, Dana’s mother, said, “Ernest had the confidence and ability to encourage, mentor, and promote those around him. He was an eternal optimist, no matter what the circumstances.”
Ernest was born Aug. 29, 1975, in Albuquerque, N.M., to Frank Kastl and Patricia Black Kastl. Ernest was the fourth of seven children. His great grandfather, born in Czechoslovakia, migrated to the United States and settled in Nebraska. His grandfather became an attorney at Creighten University before coming to the Southwest for health reasons. Here the family worked in the amusement industry where members continue today.
“As a little kid Ernest grew up in that environment and became a brilliant repairman at a very early age,” Doug said. “There wasn1t anything he could not do. His father often said, ‘I can get things working but Ernest is a natural in making repairs and solving problems.’ At 10 he assisted his brother in putting a new starter in his car. The next time the car needed a new starter, Ernest installed it.”
The family moved to Canutillo when he was 2 years old and Ernest attended school at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church. He graduated from El Paso High School in 1994. While attending college at UTEP he worked at Jaxon’s on North Mesa Street, paying all of his expenses.
“He never failed at anything,” Doug was quick to point out, “because he would not quit working at whatever problem he confronted until he had that problem solved. He thrived on good problems. Never in his 23 years did he say ‘I can’t’, or ‘I don1t have time,’ or ‘I don’t know how.’ Instead he would say ‘no problem!’”
At UTEP Ernest was an enthusiastic particpant in the Mini Baba races, which involved designing a vehicle and creating its parts.
“It is a highly respected national event,” Doug said.
When his rosary service was held at Futrell Funeral Home, family and friends spoke for over an hour — telling about favors Ernest had done for them.
“He taught me how not to be afraid of failure because he never was,” Dana said.
Dana and Ernest were best friends who hoped to someday have their own business together. He had the skills and creativity and she would handle the business side of the partnership. Dana gave an example of the way Ernest worked for others before thinking of himself.
His class was given an assignment to create a computer program. One of his friends asked for some help. Ernest stopped working on his own projectand spent many hours editing his friend’s.
“Why did you do that when you needed to fix your own assignment?” Dana asked. “Oh,” he answered, “I can hand mine in late.”
Dana was a member of Zeta Tau Alpha. Here again Ernest was a dependable helper at the Zeta house and both attended the many Zeta funtions.
Ernest died Aug. 25. His memorial service was held at St. Patrick’s Cathedral with interment following in Mount Carmel Cemetery. Survivors include his parents Frank and Patricia Kastl, of El Paso sister Krisi Kastl, of Dallas, brothers Frank of Los Angeles, Gregory of Houston, and Robert Richard Daniel, and fiancee Dana L. Hamilton of El Paso. In lieu of flowers, donations are invited to the Ernest R. Kastl Memorial Scholarship Fund. Send to UTEP, 1100 N. Stanton, Suite 205, El Paso, Texas 79902.
Paul Hammond, age 93, who lived at White Acres, was the retired proprietor of Paul Hammond Store Fixtures; active in church music as a tenor soloist, singing in choirs of First Presbyterian, Trinity Methodist, Western Hills Methodist, and St. Clement churches — and a 59-year resident of El Paso.
Tomi Rystad, who works at White Acres. said that Paul’s greatest service was to try and put a smile on every face. “He was a total source of delight — a wonderful caring, loving person.”
“He was very funny,” said Florence Wipf, a resident of White Acres. “He added spice to life.”
His son, Joe Hammond, a retired lawyer with Kemp, Smith, Duncan & Hammond, said of him, “He was a good guy who spread a lot of cheer around.”
Paul was born Nov. 9, 1905 in Albuquerque, while New Mexico was still a territory. His parents were James Hammond and Molly Moser Hammond. After his preliminary schooling, he attended the University of New Mexico where he was a member of Pi Kappa Alpha. He worked for Piggly Wiggly to help pay for his expenses.
“It was during the depression,” his son said, “but nevertheless he became intrigued with work. He moved to El Paso in 1940 to represent Friedrich Refrigeration Co. out of San Antonio and Toledo Scale Company, commercial refrigeration and grocery store fixtures. He was a keen student of salesmanship as a profession.”
While in high school (in Albuquerque) he met Irma Whitehouse through her brother Joe who was Paul’s best friend. In 1928 he married Irma. They celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary at the International Club in 1978.
“She wore her wedding dress,” her son Joe said. “The only alteration she had to make was to take off the buttons and sew in a zipper. When Mother died in January 1996 they had been married 72 years”.
His love of music caused him to spend much of his time with church choirs. He played the marimba and formed a quartet for their own enjoyment as well as many an audience through the years.
His daughter-in-law, Jane, was one of the founders of Pro-Musica and was on the board of directors. Paul shared her interests in the organization both in attendance and giving.
“He had a nice tenor voice with perfect pitch. He said it was a curse as often as it was a blessing,” his son Joe said. “The quartet was made up of Soprano Mary Carol Casner, alto Alice Burton, Bass Bob Griffin, and of course my Dad. He auditioned for membership and was admitted to the McDowell Club as an associate. My peers enjoyed my parents and called them ‘The Babe’ and ‘The Barren’ to make fun of his baldness.”
After he bought the store, World War II began. The government took over all the manufacturing places to turn out war supplies. “Nevertheless,” son Joe said, “He personified the American entrepreneur. He was fiercely independent in everything and never beholden to anyone for anything. He was very warm hearted and loved people.”
Almost everyone who knew him spoke about the cards he passed out sometimes during a conversation. Dorr Miller, who worked with him for 40 years, remembered the time he put his hand in his pocket and said, “Let me give you my card.” The cards were filled with bright, funny statements. One Dorr remembered was “You can fool some people some of the time and that’s usually enough to make a living.”
Charles Henry, an El Paso architect, said Paul had a cedar chest filled with tricks — such as butterflies flying out of napkins, etc. with which he amused those about him.
Another love was golf, playing with his wife as a partner. They played well into their 80s. They would go to the El Paso Country Club late in the afternoon, several days a week, and play nine holes. Twice he was on the winning team of the Pro-Amateur when the Texas Open was played in El Paso.
His wife Irma preceded him in death. Survivors include his son and daughter-in-law, Joe and Jane Hammond, granddaughter Molly Hammond Lowe of Houston and her husband Michael, and one brother, Tom Hammond of Albuquerque.
Paul died Aug. 26 and his memorial service was held on Aug. 28 in the McKee Chapel of St. Clement Church. In lieu of flowers the family requests contributions be made to El Paso Pro-Musica or to a favorite charity.
“He was a fine gentleman,” Dorr Miller said.
Fred T. Hervey
A legend has passed on. Fred T. Hervey, selected for El Paso County Historical Society’s Hall of Honor on Nov. 17, 1976, whose energy and activity added so much to the history of the city on the border, passed away at the age of 90. Two significant things contributed to his success: serving as El Paso’s mayor for two consecutive terms in the 1950s and again in the mid-’70s, and creating a chain of convenience stores called the Circle K.
His daughter Sherleen said, “In talking with close friends of my father, the consensus of opinion is that they thought of him as extremely generous and always interested in everyone’s problems. He tried to help as much as he possibly could, not wanting to be repaid for any help he had given.”
Fred was born in El Paso July 28, 1909, to Taylor Masters Hervey and Sarah Gertrude Crossett Hervey. In 1923 his childhood ventures began as a salesman of ice cream, soda pop, and popcorn at a sidewalk concession stand. He asked his father, who managed three theaters, to let him sell to the audiences there.
He attended El Paso High School until he had a chance to obtain a job at First National Bank where he worked as a runner. In 1929, at age 18, he moved to First National Bank in Mesa, Ariz. While in Mesa he married Helen Lockhart. Sherleen was their first daughter. Hervey became head bookkeeper and assistant teller. When the stock market crashed and the Great Depression was imminent, he returned with his family to El Paso. He later divorced Helen.
Jobs being unavailable, he and his brother decided to focus on a drive-in restaurant. They borrowed money from H.T. Ponsford to build their first Oasis. After the debt was paid he invested his money in building more Oasis restaurants until he had eight in the El Paso area, which he sold 36 years later after he had created the Circle K chain that mushroomed to 5,500 stores from coast to coast as well as China, Japan, and England.
Off to war
In 1942, at age 33, he joined the Navy and was sent to the island of Kwajalein in the South Pacific. While he was gone, his wife Hazel Pendleton and 13-year-old Sherleen kept the Oasis restaurants running.
In 1951 he began his campaign for mayor of El Paso. By 1952 he was selected by the El Paso Realtors as its outstanding citizen. In 1953 he took the oath of office as mayor for the second time. In 1955 he refused to run for a third term. He decided to tour French Equatorial Africa, paying a visit to Dr. Albert Schweitzer in Lamberene. He had an audience with Pope Pius XII during his world travels.
Dec. 18, 1957, he created the Hervey Foundation for educational, charitable, literary, religious and scientific pursuits and for prevention of cruelty to children. The foundation has been an on-going entity ever since. Eric Payne, CEO of Sun World Investments L.P., said that during the past seven years alone the foundation has given more than $l,300,000 to various community organizations.
Hervey touched nearly everyone
Some organizations that have benefited include Boys and Girls Club of El Paso, Boy Scouts of America, El Paso Lighthouse for the Blind, El Paso Rehabilitation center, El Paso Shelter for Battered Women, Houchen Community Center, Insights El Paso Science Museum, Lydia Patterson Institute, United Way of El Paso, Visiting Nurses Association, XII Travelers, and several YMCA centers throughout El Paso.
Hervey started Sun World Savings in El Paso, in 1983, and served as chairman of the board. He also entered into banking elsewhere in Texas, and in Arizona, California and New Mexico.
‘A true visionary’
Don Henderson, in a eulogy at Hervey’s memorial service, called him “a true visionary who when asked what had contributed most to his success answered, ‘You take in more than you pay out!’” Henderson also said that when Hervey sat down before his aldermen he would always say “How are we going to do this thing?”
Wayne Springer said, “I first met Mr. Hervey in the 1960s when I applied for a job. He sat me down and asked me questions about myself. ‘What do you want more than anything else?’ I answered, ‘To enroll in West Point.’ And I did, with his help.”
In September of 1965, Mary Lou Bustillos became his payroll clerk. She was with him for more than 32 years. “Every morning he came to the office, rapped his knuckles on the desk and said, ‘Busy bees, busy bees.’ One of his specialties was being very courteous to all of us. He was a wonderful man. He loved to venture and was blessed with ideas.”
During the 1960s he founded the Sun Publishing Co., several land development companies and a water company. All his ventures merged into what was named the Sun World Corp., now known as Sun World Investments L.P.
In 1964 he served as chairman and arbitrator of the Chamizal Planning Commission. For two terms he served the Chamber of Commerce, acting as president in 1966. In 1968 he made a study tour of Russia and started a newspaper called the Literary Gazette of Moscow.
Mayor Hervey, again
In 1973 he ran again for El Paso mayor and won. He was named chairman of the annual dinner of the El Paso Region of the National Conference of Christians and Jews. About 600 attended the dinner and honored Fred as a citizen. He received the annual Human Relations Award. Some of his civic contributions included El Paso Cancer Treatment Center, Boy Scouts, El Paso Chamber of Commerce, Downtown Merchants Association, and El Paso’s Community Foundation.
His philanthropy and involvement also extended to Phoenix where he spent much time. The Fred Hervey birthing center is one example of his support of that community.
“He was troubled that babies should be born in a regular hospital where there was disease so he created the Birthing Center,” Sherleen said.
Caring, giving person
“I’ve known Fred for 45, 50 years,” Charles Mattox said. “He always ran several miles every morning to get enough energy to go through the day. He was a caring, giving person. No one knows how many people, associations and foundations he has helped during his lifetime.”
Hervey died Sept. 1. His survivors include daughters Sherleen Lockhart Hervey and Diane Hervey Ruby, son Fred Hervey Jr., five grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.
Services were held in the First Presbyterian Church with Rev. Sue Dickson officiating. Burial was in Memory Gardens of the Valley Cemetery, Santa Teresa, N.M. Contributions may be made to El Paso Community Foundation, Boy Scouts of America, or the Hervey Foundation.
“Fred Hervey was an example of a self-made man. He did not harbor regrets for past mistakes and his keen mind jumped ahead in invaluable service to his community,” said Payne.
The El Paso Symphony Orchestra dedicated its 1999-2000 concert season in loving memory of Olga Burnett Roderick to acknowledge the many contributions she and her late husband Dorrance have given to the community. The total monies donated over the years by these two philanthropists was $8 million. Olga, who died at age 98, was a member of the Pro Cathedral Episcopal Church of Saint Clement.
“She was one wonderful lady,” said the Rev. William Francis in his homily during the funeral service. “Olga, with her grace, love, and kindness, would always be at the worship service early and sat in the same seat ... She typified graciousness, gratefulness and faithfulness to God.”
Olga, born on Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 28, 1900, in Bowie, Texas, was the daughter of Martha Jackson and J.T. Burnett. She had one sister and a brother. The family moved to Elk City, Okla., where she finished high school in 1918. She enrolled in the University of Oklahoma at Norman, where she was one of the beauty queens of the university in 1920. She became a member of Kappa Alpha Theta Sorority and just recently received a pin for 75 years as a Theta member.
It was at the university where she met Dorrance Douglas Roderick, a journalism major.
“Music brought them together,” said her daughter Frances Axelson. “My father sang in a chorus and so did my mother. The first time he saw her, he asked to walk her home. He graduated in 1921 and went to work on the Wichita Eagle as a reporter. He and my mother married Aug. 14, 1922.”
Dorrance became a publisher of the Lubbock Avalanche Journal. In 1929 they moved to El Paso where he was publisher of the El Paso Times for the next 46 years. He was the founder of the El Paso Symphony Orchestra Association and was its president for 37 years. Olga was a charter member of the Women’s Committee of the El Paso Symphony Orchestra. She was a life member of at least 10 other organizations. Some of them were Providence Hospital Auxiliary, Pan American Round Table, Auxiliary of the El Paso Rehabilitation Center, the Women’s Club of El Paso, the El Paso Historical Society and the UTEP Auxiliary. She was a vice chairman of the El Paso Community Foundation and a patron of Radford School.
“Mrs. Roderick was known far and wide for her cheerful demeanor and caring generosity,” said Janice Windle, chairman of the El Paso Community Foundation. “Every year the Roderick endowment fund in El Paso Community Foundation gives over a quarter of a million dollars to community charities.”
Roderick grants have gone to a professorship in English at UTEP, annual concert sponsorship of El Paso Symphony Orchestra, St. Clement’s Parish School, Plaza Theatre, El Paso Public Television/KCOS, the United Way, KTEP, YWCA, YMCA, Armed Services YMCA, VNA Circle of Hope Hospice, and Hospice of El Paso, El Paso Museum of Art, Human Society of El Paso, American Red Cross, Salvation Army, and Rescue Mission.
As a hobby, Olga played bridge. Her group stayed together for more than 50 years. They were Valerie Bennis, Mildred Fletcher, Laura Homan Nell Gorman, Mal Broaddus, Jane Perrenot, Georgie Schwartz and Winnie Schuster. They played every two weeks when they got together for luncheon and bridge.
Monday evenings were reserved for her grandchildren and great-grandchildren who came to visit.
“We just sat around talking,” one of her grandchildren, Carol Gilcrease, said. “I think of her as being one of the most beautiful, loving ladies I’ve ever known. I cannot think of anything negative about her. One of her former neighbors remembered seeing her dry her beautiful blonde hair in the afternoon sun.”
After Olga’s husband died in 1981, she moved to White Acres retirement home where she lived for 16 years. Olga died Sept. 6. Her funeral service was held at the Pro Cathedral Church of St. Clement with the Very Reverend Philip Jones (Provost) and Rev. William Francis officiating.
She was preceded in death by her husband, and her son, D.D. Roderick Jr.
She is survived by her daughter Frances Barnard Bagwell-Axelson, nine grandchildren, 27 great-grandchildren and two great-great-grandsons.