THE HISTORICAL SOCIETY OF RIVERTON REMEMBERS BETTY BAILEY HAHLE

On Saturday, April 30, 2011, friends, family, community members, and colleagues from all points gathered at historic Christ Church in Riverton to celebrate the life of Mrs. Betty B. Hahle, Riverton Town Historian, former HSR President and editor of its newsletter, and relentless champion of historic preservationist battles, who passed away Sunday April 17, 2011.

Possessed of an encyclopedic knowledge of all things concerning Riverton, Betty recently expressed regret that writing her book on Riverton’s history had eluded her. Nevertheless, the body of authoritative historical works that she produced is prodigious. Renowned for her thoroughly researched articles on historical subjects, she authored Riverton’s history for the borough website, wrote the history of the Porch Club, contributed to Riverton School’s Riverton Project, consulted on community planning projects, and produced over 100 of her signature “Yesterday” columns for the Historical Society of Riverton’s newsletter, the Gaslight News.

Her tireless activism in the pursuit of preserving Riverton’s heritage has resulted in a number of victories which will stand as her lasting legacy to the town which she so adored. In 1978, in concert with borough officials, Mrs. Hahle helped save Riverton’s cherished gas streetlamps from oblivion; in 1989, she rescued the fragile vintage film Romance of Riverton by preserving it to videotape; and she was one of the main persons responsible for saving rare late 19th and early 20th century New Era newspaper issues to microfilm. In 2009, the Burlington Board of Chosen Freeholders recognized both Betty Hahle and a colleague for their work in preserving the Romance of Riverton and making it accessible to modern audiences. Perhaps her most gratifying accomplishment was her 20 year-long quest to win for Riverton’s historic district a listing on the coveted state Register of Historic Places.

Betty Bailey married Joseph W. Hahle, and they raised three daughters in Riverton. Mrs. Hahle was active in Riverton’s Parent Teachers Association, the Palmyra High School Band Parents Association and was a Girl Scout leader. In the early l970s, Betty became interested in genealogy and local history, favorite hobbies she pursued with a passion. She was a member of the Porch Club of Riverton, holding various chairs there, and in 1989, the group honored her as their Woman of the Year.

The Betty B. Hahle Excellence in History Award is given to an eighth grade student each year at Riverton Public School. Betty Hahle’s many decades of historic research and writing as Town Historian and her interest in cultivating the interest of young people in the study of history inspired the award.

Mrs. Betty B. Hahle

Always generous with her expertise, just days before she passed, Betty was dictating notes from her hospital bed to encourage one author on the content of a future Gaslight News feature story while supplying an essential fact she recalled from one of her many interviews for the writer of another article.No one can deny her passion for pursuing Riverton’s history or her unwavering commitment to preserving Riverton’s character. Clearly, more than any other single person, Mrs. Betty B. Hahle has made our understanding of Riverton history what it is today. By so faithfully documenting Riverton’s past with her meticulous investigating and record-keeping, Betty has indeed now assured her own place in Riverton’s history alongside the very founders, merchants, industrialists, and social activists she researched, certain to be quoted and cited for years to come. She was 92.

Find the complete Burlington County Times obituary here.

HISTORICAL SOCIETY OF RIVERTON

 

 

2 thoughts on “THE HISTORICAL SOCIETY OF RIVERTON REMEMBERS BETTY BAILEY HAHLE”

  1. When I was the school librarian at Riverton Public School, and asked to help create the first school web site, I was delighted to hear that Betty Hahle would be generous of her time and expertise to help me flesh out this first site of the history of Riverton (Riverton Project http://www.riverton.k12.nj.us/rivertonproject/project.html). Her exacting knowledge of dates and people gave both authenticity and a familiar “story” to the founding our our community — the people who contributed to the educational, social, and business advances in our small town. We owe a significant debt to her for helping to enrich us all about our past history as well as remind us that history is what is made, today, and not to miss any of it. She is missed by so many of us who knew her and her work. Our condolences go out to her family.

  2. Betty Hahle was also active in The Porch Club of Riverton, the women’s club founded in 1890. She was First Vice-President from 1987 until 1991. She then became Chairman of the American Home Life Department from 1991 to 1993. In 1990, to celebrate the 100th Anniversary of the Club, Betty spent three years putting together all of the Porch Club’s archives (about 20 boxes of papers) from 1890 to the present and continued thereafter as the Porch Club archivist and Historian. Last summer, when Priscilla Taylor took over as Porch Club Historian, Betty met with us both and explained what she had painstakingly done. She was also responsible for getting the original map of the town that hangs on the Porch Club stage framed by an archivist to preserve it. She was elected Woman of the Year in 1989.
    Betty was always happy to share her encyclopedic knowledge of the town of Riverton with everyone. She guided me through getting the historical plaque for my own home and was always the person I could count on to answer any question about the town, no matter how obscure. When the Historical Society was given the Biddle wedding dress a few years ago, Betty knew exactly who it had belonged to and all about the family, gave me their history, where they had lived, and family contacts for more information. I will miss her and her knowledge terribly. She was a unique and special lady whose absence will be keenly felt.

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