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Clark, Betty Jean, 1920-2005



  • Existence: 1920 - 2005


Betty Jean (BeJe) Clark was born on April 18, 1920 to the Reverend Raymond and Mary Walker in Kansas City, Kansas. After graduating from high school in Fort Hays, Kansas she began her undergraduate studies at Fort Hays State College and continued through the University of Utah in Salt Lake City and the University of the Pacific in Stockton, California, where she received her degree in religious education. Her graduate work was done at the Garrett Theological Seminary in Evanston, Illinois.

With her strong religious background Clark spent much of her early career working with the Methodist Church as the Director of Student Programs at the Wesley Foundation in Ames, Iowa from 1948 to 1951, and as the Director of Christian Education and financial secretary at the United Methodist Church in Mason City, Iowa, from 1963 to 1975.

Clark is also a published writer, beginning in 1935 in the Hays Daily News, and continuing with the column "Beje's Barrel,"" in the Ames Daily Tribune from 1947 to 1948 and the Old Trails Echo (in Centerville, Indiana) in 1953. She also compiled the book Nearer to Thee, a compilation of scriptures for daily meditation, with her sister Harriet Ann Daffron in 1956 and again in 1971. In addition, Beje edited Christian periodicals such as the Periodical Key for the Busy Methodist, which she began as an index of all Methodist publication and is now produced by the Methodist Publishing House and called the Periodical Index.

Clark spent fourteen years as a Republican in the Iowa House of Representatives after she was elected in 1976. While a representative she served on numerous committees, including fourteen years on the Judiciary Committee and the Human Resources Committee, which she chaired for four years. She wrote much of the legislation establishing the Prisoner Employment Program in 1978 and pioneered the Living Will legislation. In addition, from 1978 to 1989 Clark hosted high school students with the "Teen-Tern" program where students spent a week in Des Moines learning about how Iowa government works. Some of her other programs involved finding funding for services for abused children and establishing special employment training for women in prison.

In 1990 Clark retired from the House. On November first of that year she was injured in a car accident, and has been in a wheelchair since then. Clark resides in Rockwell, Iowa with her husband and has continued her public service with activities such as the radio show "Citizen Power," attending conferences on criminal justice and remaining active in organizations such as CURE (Citizens United for the Rehabilitation of Errants), Justice Fellowship and the Advisory Council on Criminal and Juvenile Justice Planning (as one of two public citizens).

Found in 2 Collections and/or Records:

A Political Dialogue: Iowa's Women Legislators oral histories

Identifier: IWA0089

Interviews with Iowa women legislators conducted by Suzanne O'Dea Schenken.

Dates: 1988-1993

Betty Jean Clark papers

Identifier: IWA0153

Iowa legislator from 1976 to 1990.

Dates: 1935-1994

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20th century 1
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