Santa Fe Living Treasures – Elder Stories

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Betty Egan



Honored June, 1992

Elizabeth Tinnerman 'Betty' Egan

Betty Egan left college to join the army, headed west to start a dude ranch, and organized a volunteer fire department. Can't and shouldn't were two words Betty didn't indulge.

Elisabeth Tinnerman Egan was born in 1919, on Guadalupe Day, December 12. "Once she came to New Mexico, she liked to observe the day," said her daughter, Veronica Egan. "She liked the fact that she and Our Lady of Guadalupe shared a day." The daughter of Cleveland industrialist Albert Tinnerman, Betty grew up a tomboy, who loved to fish, hunt, and camp with her father.

She graduated from Dennison College but "ran away from college to join the Women's Army Corps during World War II," Veronica said. While at Fort Knox, Betty met Robert Egan, who was also in the army. They were married at Fort Knox in a military ceremony, but "to satisfy the relatives," a lavish traditional ceremony was later held in Cleveland, Veronica said.

Both husband and wife were shipped to Europe. Stationed in France, Betty was to be promoted to major when she became pregnant. "She was a captain in the most highly decorated WAC unit in the European Theater," said Veronica. "She received the Member of the British Empire medal, which was presented to her by King George." She was shipped stateside in the summer of 1945, returning to Cleveland, where she spent the next eighteen years raising children and involving herself in civic causes.

Betty had always wanted to go west. When Robert died from peritonitis at age forty-six, she rented a Dodge motor home, loaded up her four kids, and spent the summer touring "Colorado, Arizona, Texas, New Mexico, a little bit of Utah," Veronica remembers. "But we kept ending up back in Santa Fe. Mom just loved it, and so did I."

Please see Volume 1 for complete text.
Photo ©1997 by Joanne Rijmes