Prolific volunteer leaves legacy in Happy Valley
Betty Pribil, a longtime Happy Valley resident who was a prolific and award-winning volunteer, died Monday, June 29 in her sleep. She was 96.
In 1988, Pribil and her husband, Frank, surprised their son and his family by purchasing a home on the street next to them in Happy Valley. True to her nature, she immediately found groups to join. She served in leadership positions in the Happy Valley Garden Club, Home Extension and the Clackamas United Church of Christ. But quilting became her passion. She joined Northwest Quilters and in 1992, became chairperson of the Comforting Quilts program. She made quilts for her church to hang in the building, raffle quilts to raise money for a variety of charities, children's quilts for several organizations, quilts for the Clackamas County Sheriff's Office and for the Clackamas County District Attorney's Volunteer Connection, which gave quilts to abused children.
She would go to her sewing room every day at 6 a.m., not stopping until 4 p.m., except to have lunch. She had quilt groups in her home, went to quilt with others, and budgeted several hundred dollars a month for supplies. Twice, she battled breast cancer and said she couldn't give up, because she had to reach her goal of making 3,000 quilts. By the time she had to quit sewing in 2015 due to memory issues, she had made and given away over 6,000 quilts.
Over the years Pribil supported a number of charities with money, sewing, knitting and volunteer time. Tulare, California, gave her the distinguished service award in 1982. In 1998, she was honored by Clackamas County with the Hearts and Hands award and in 1999, the Clackamas RSVP program presented Pribil with for Outstanding Volunteer Service award.
In 2001, she was one of the Royal Rosarians' Newsmakers of the Year, presented by the Portland Tribune features editor. In 2007, she received a service award from NW Quilters, and she was Outstanding Senior Volunteer for Clackamas County. In 2015, Oregon Home Extension gave her the Oregon Heart Award. She donated her last quilt to the Clackamas County District Attorney and was brought to tears when she received a letter informing her they had framed and hung it in remembrance of all she had donated to the county.
Pribil was preceded in death by Frank, her husband of 62 years. She is survived by her son Joe and daughter-in-law, Kathy. She had grandsons and great-grandsons.
Born in 1924 in Chillicothe, Missourri, Pribil was the middle daughter of five children growing up on a farm during the Great Depression. Her grandmother would make quilts out of scraps from old dresses and aprons.
Pribil told stories of riding a cow to a one-room schoolhouse. When people would come to the door hungry, her mother would offer them food.
After attending business college, she got a job in Kansas City. In 1952, she moved with her infant son to California, where she worked for the county hospital and then the school district, in a time when most women stayed at home. She took classes and worked her way up to becoming business manager of the Tulare City School District. She also then began her involvement in various community groups.