Elizabeth “Betty” Jane Kendall, one of Ball State’s oldest alumna and lifelong supporters, has passed away. She was 106 years old.

“Jennifer and I are deeply saddened by Betty’s passing,” said Ball State President Geoffrey S. Mearns. “She was a light in the Muncie community—a woman who accomplished so much over the course of her remarkable life. To know her was a gift, and we are blessed to have called her a friend.”

Ms. Kendall agreed to attend Ball State Teachers College for two years at her father’s request, believing she would transfer elsewhere after she fulfilled his requirement. However, after those two years, Betty found that she had no desire to pursue her education elsewhere and graduated in 1938. She taught first grade for a few years but then stopped to raise her family, as was customary at the time.

Ms. Kendall, known for almost always wearing heels and a lover of orchids, was honored by friends for her 100th birthday by having the Betty Kendall Ladyslipper Orchid Collection named for her as a living tribute within the Dr. Joe and Alice Rinard Greenhouse.

She was a Charter Member of the Discovery Women’s Philanthropy Board, the National Philanthropy Council, The John Emens Scholarship Committee, and the Alumni Center Steering Committee that would plan the University’s new Alumni Center. She was the first female board member of the First Merchants Bank and was a member of many Muncie community clubs and organizations. Ms. Kendall served on the first Board of Directors for Westminster Village, where she later became a resident, but not until well into her 90s.

Always a proud Cardinal, and not one to sit still, Ms. Kendall could be found at many alumni events, plays, and concert performances through the years. She was a longtime basketball and football season ticket holder through 2020. Ms. Kendall also assisted in several Ball State immersive learning projects.

She would have celebrated her 107th birthday on Valentine’s Day, 2023.

A Celebration of Life will be held at 2:00 pm on Thursday, Dec. 1, 2022, at First Presbyterian Church, 1400 W. Riverside Ave., Muncie. Memorial Contributions may be made to The Betty Kendall Lady Slipper Orchid Species Collection Fund #908, c/o Ball State University, 2800 W. Bethel Ave., Muncie, IN 47304.

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