It's Not the Destination, It's the Journey
Known affectionately as Frau Blauw during her two years at Trinity, Betty Blauw was a student in the first class in 1959 and was bouncing her grandson on her knee while she studied for exams.
“I was kind of a novelty,” said Blauw, “At first the other students treated me as a mother figure and delighted in trying to shock and horrify me. But I didn’t mother them, and they began to treat me as a fellow student.”
Blauw’s husband William, who passed away in 1993, was a great supporter of his wife’s pursuing her college education. Because of the Depression, she had no opportunity to attend college after graduating from high school. She eventually took a nursing course at Purdue and worked for Ingall’s Memorial Hospital, then, when her two children were nearing the end of high school, Blauw decided to pursue her college education.
“Starting with Trinity’s first class in 1959 was a wonderful opportunity because of the small class size,” she said, describing a campus that still boasts small class size and caring professors. “It was like private tutoring.”
Reminiscing about various Trinity professors, Blauw said she didn’t realize until much later how influenced she had been by her instructors.
Philosophy with Dr. Calvin Seerveld turned out to be a stimulating class for Blauw, a voracious reader with an active mind and creative urge. When Seerveld informed his students that many people believe learning philosophy is “like finding a black cat in a dark room,” Blauw’s response to her next assignment was to write a five-page poem on Homer.
“He said I was showing off,” recalled an amused Blauw. She still has the paper.
In fact, Blauw has written hundreds of poems over her lifetime. She has also written a collection of poems covering the subjects of dreaming, everyday life, nature, romance, and religion.
Read “Sonnet to Love.”
She graduated in 1961, when Trinity was still a two-year college, and eventually moved to California where her husband, who was in the tool and die trade, was transferred. There Betty earned her bachelor’s degree at Long Beach State and then her master’s at the age of 50. While working on her thesis, Betty spent 45 days in the South Seas studying the art and folklore of the islands. Like the professors who had taught her so much, she shared her love of learning and her knowledge with students as an English professor at Long Beach for three years.
But Betty’s adventure was only beginning. The epitome of the poet and lifelong student, she started on a journey of world travel when her husband retired and was sent to Germany as a consultant.
“That started the traveling years,” said Blauw, who with her husband, boarded freighters bound for such exotic locales as Tunisia, Egypt, and Morocco. “These weren’t cruises like real people take. They included rats as big as cats and mean-spirited goats.”
Despite her unorthodox means of travel, Blauw related these adventures with the same joyful musing in her voice as when recollecting her time at Trinity.
Blauw, who is the College’s oldest alum at 93, may have many years, miles, and life experiences separating her from the two years she spent at Trinity, but her alma mater is still close to her heart. She has maintained her connection with the College, which she likens to “watching a child grow up.” And Blauw said Trinity has grown to be an even more wonderful place than the school whose first class she was part of.
Said Blauw, “How can you help but have a soft spot in your heart for something you helped give birth to?”
For the last 20 years, this woman who “likes to keep the pot stirred,” has volunteered in the hospital library of Tri-City Medical Center in Oceanside, California.
She was recently featured in the city’s local paper for donating a bench to replace the one she had sat on for many years, waiting for the bus to take her on the next leg of her daily journey from tireless community service to home.
“I have had a very full life and have always been under God's hand and guidance. For that I am very thankful.”
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