Gale Betterly grew up on a small dairy farm in northeast Ohio. An avid 4-Her in Summit County, she was a serious competitor and was active in showing cows in Medina County, where her brother Gene Baumgardner said the best cows could be found in their area when they were growing up.
“She was in love with dairy cows,” he said, remembering his sister, who passed away in June. It was their father, Ora, who saw the promise in his daughter — and the bad farm economy at the time — and sold his dairy farm so Betterly could go to college. She didn’t disappoint him.
“She was the only girl who graduated from the dairy science program at OSU (at the time),” Baumgardner said. “Not one before her or for a long time after.”
Eventually, Betterly went on to get her doctorate in adult and continuing education and worked to advance agriculture her entire working life.
“She was part of the Farm Bureau youth program, and she drug her little brother along,” Baumgardner said. “She was a junior leader in the program and became an active Farm Bureau member. It was a natural extension of what she’d believed in for a long time.”
Betterly was a 4-H educator in Columbiana County and in charge of the 4-H dairy program in Michigan.
Passion for agriculture
Betterly didn’t live on a farm in her adult life, but Baumgardner said she kept up with what life was like on farms across the state. Her passion was explaining to young people what agriculture was all about, whether it be educating them about where their food comes from or staying up-to-date on the latest technology.
“She wanted youth to know that there was more to farming than being in a tractor all day and getting your hands dirty,” he said, noting that his late sister was a business woman who was honest about what the needs in agriculture were and what paths needed to be taken to fulfill those needs.
Sharing her passion
Her life’s devotion to agriculture will continue through her estate plans as Betterly bequeathed a gift to the Ohio Farm Bureau Foundation. The funds she left to the foundation will be used to educate and promote agriculture, specifically to youth.
“It’s through generous gifts such as Gale’s that provide us all a snapshot of the legacy the agriculture industry provides to our state as well as the importance of providing pathways for future generations,” said Wade Smith, foundation board president and OFBF state trustee.
That she left a substantial sum to the foundation was not a surprise to Baumgardner.
“She was a great giver,” he said.
Betterly was involved in 4-H, and served in many other livestock and grain farming organizations including Farm Bureau, where she served as state trustee representing the Northeast District from 2000-2009. She also was an accomplished seamstress and quilter.
Online extra: Leaving a beneficiary designation gift as a legacy
Former OFBF State Trustee Gale Betterly named Ohio Farm Bureau Foundation as the beneficiary of her life insurance policy. A “beneficiary designation gift” allows an individual to name the charity of their choice as the beneficiary of a life insurance policy or retirement account to provide a charity with death benefit proceeds.
Naming Ohio Farm Bureau Foundation as beneficiary of an insurance policy is as simple as updating the beneficiary designation form with the policy holder. Those who receive funds can be the primary beneficiary for a percentage, a specific amount or the contingent beneficiary.
Members are encouraged to consult with a professional advisor or contact Kelly Burns, executive director of the Ohio Farm Bureau Foundation, or call 614-246-8275 for more information.