Elizabeth Orear French

Elizabeth Orear French
Elizabeth Orear French

Elizabeth “Liz” “Betty” Watt Orear French, age 91, died Saturday March 1, 2014, at Huntington Place in Janesville. She was born July 31, 1922, to Edison and Floy (Smith) Watt in St. Louis, Missouri, where she grew up and graduated from Ritenour High School in 1939. While attending Central Methodist College in Fayette, MO, she met Errell T. Orear, and they were married in St. Louis on October 5, 1941. His employment as a Kresge store manager eventually brought them to Janesville. Errell passed away in 1986, and after living as a widow for ten years, Elizabeth married Russell B. French in 1996.

Elizabeth graduated sum laude with a Bachelor of Education degree in English from the University of Wisconsin Whitewater in 1964 and from the University of Wisconsin Madison with a Master’s degree in 1969. She taught English at Franklin Jr. High from 1964-67 and at Craig High School from 1967 until her retirement in 1987. At Craig she was advisor for the Phoenix, the Craig yearbook, and instructor of many upper-level classes in Shakespeare and World Literature.

In the Janesville community, Elizabeth was a long-time member of Cargill Methodist Church, serving as a Sunday school teacher and the women’s society circle chairman. She was also active in the Janesville Women’s Club and AAUW, where she organized their first used book sale. She and her first husband, Errell were members of the Janesville Kennel Club and enjoyed showing their Cocker Spaniels and Wheaton Terriers throughout the Midwest.

After retirement, Elizabeth was active in Janesville Little Theater as actress, board member and president, and historian. In addition, she was first a board member and then a teacher for SLU (Seniors Learning Unlimited) at Beloit College where her class “Page and Stage” was very popular. As a board member of Hedberg Library’s Friends, she spent many hours as a volunteer in the used book shop and assisted the Rock County Historical Society as a docent at the Lincoln Tallman House for many years. Elizabeth was also a member of the Janesville Area Retired Teachers Association.

After her marriage to Russell French, she became a member of Rock Prairie Presbyterian Church and later the First Congregational Church. She continued her interests in world-wide travel, theater, reading, embroidery, knitting, and collecting English royalty commemoratives. A dog lover all her life, she and Russ shared their home with Clancy, their Cavalier King Charles Spaniel.

Elizabeth is survived by her husband, Russell B. French; her children, Errell T. (Connie) Orear, Jr., of St. Louis, Susan Weddle of Phillips, WI, and Dr. Jeffery (Barbara) Orear of Peshtigo, WI; her grandchildren, Gregory Orear, Sean Orear, Melissa Orear Whipp, Rev. Aaron Orear, Dr. Andrew Weddle, Katherine Weddle Langer, Melanie Orear Corrigan, Dr. Kelly Orear, Megan Orear, and Michael Orear; and eleven (soon-to-be12) great-grandchildren. She was predeceased by her parents; a son, Randall W. Orear; her husband, Errell T. Orear; and her sister, Billie Lou Studer.

Funeral services will be held at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday March 8, 2014, at the SCHNEIDER APFEL SCHNEIDER & SCHNEIDER FUNERAL HOME and CREMATORY, Janesville. Rev. Jamie Swanson will preside and entombment will follow in Milton Lawns Memorial Park. Visitation will take place on Saturday from 9:30 a.m. until the hour of service at the SCHNEIDER APFEL SCHNEIDER & SCHNEIDER FUNERAL HOME. Memorial donations may be made in Liz’s name to Janesville Little Theater, as she takes her last bow. On-line Guestbook at www.schneiderfuneraldirectors.com

In her farewell message to friends and family, Elizabeth requested, “Please don’t cry for me at my funeral! No dirges, no solemnities, no tears are appropriate. Instead, I request smiles, joyful music, and quiet thanks to God.” She asked that we celebrate her life for she felt, “No one could ask for more or feel more satisfied of a life well-lived, not wasted but relished, and hopefully of some worth to family and community.”