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McKenzie, Bettie



Elizabeth "Bettie" Bixby, realtor and community activist, was born in Wichita, Kansas, in 1925 to Ruth Wickham Bixby and Benjamin Parker Bixby. Ruth Bixby was a nurse and homemaker and Benjamin Bixby was a physician. Bettie Bixby received her BA in political science from the University of Nebraska at Omaha in 1945. In September of that year, she married Lowell "Bob" McKenzie. The couple had three children, Robert, Abigail and Sarah.

The family moved to Red Oak, Iowa, in 1950 when Bob McKenzie took a job with the Thomas D. Murphy Company. Bettie McKenzie was active in her community. In the early 1960s, McKenzie acted as hostess for a Welcome Wagon service she started in Red Oak. She served as president of several organizations, including the Red Oak branch of the American Association of University Women (AAUW), the Montgomery Board of Realtors, the Community Service League, and the United Nations Association. She was also a member of the PTA, the Planned Parenthood of Mid-Iowa Volunteer Council, the Sunshine and Rainbows Day Care Center Board of Directors, and the Montgomery County Democratic Party.

In the 1980s, McKenzie became interested in local history. She served on the Women's History committee and assembled Women's History Day programs for nearly twenty years. She edited several works, including Her Own Story: Ten Benton County Women , They Didn't Have Perma Press , and Women of Montgomery County.

In addition to her community involvement, McKenzie returned to college at Omaha in the 1960s and later took professional courses in real estate from 1973-1987. She worked as a real estate broker for Engquist Insurance (later Hawkeye Insurance).

Bettie McKenzie died in October 2005.


Her Own Story: Ten Benton County Women is a women's oral history project of the Vinton, Iowa, American Association of University Women (AAUW). In 1984 members of the AAUW interviewed and taped the histories of ten Benton County women. In 1985 the tapes were transcribed, resulting in over 900 pages of typescript. To put the transcripts into a more accessible form, Bettie McKenzie of Red Oak, Iowa, volunteered in 1988 to edit them. In 1992 the book, Her Own Story: Ten Benton County Women, was completed. Two bound copies were placed in the Vinton Public Library and are available on inter-library loan. A slide-tape show was produced based on these interviews and is also available at the Vinton library. In 2010, the slide/tape show was digitized and a copy was donated to the Iowa Women’s Archives. In 2012, the full recordings of each interview were also transferred to a digital format and donated. All of the women, who were born at the turn of the twentieth century, were asked questions about family background, education, work history, personal memories and historical events. Their stories reveal ten individuals of varying backgrounds and experiences, yet who are typical of women on farms and in small towns of the Midwest. The project was supported with grants from the Iowa Humanities Board and the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Found in 2 Collections and/or Records:

Bettie McKenzie papers

Identifier: IWA0136

Community activist from Red Oak, Iowa.

Dates: 1870-2005

Her Own Story: Ten Benton County Women

Identifier: IWA0134

Project of the Vinton, Iowa, American Association of University Women.

Dates: 1984-1992

Additional filters:

1981-1990 1
1991-2000 1
2001-2010 1
20th century 1
Clerks 1