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Elizabeth French

Elizabeth “Liz” “Betty” Watt Orear French, 91, passed away Saturday March 1 at Huntington Place in Janesville.

Born July 31, 1922, to Edison and Floy (Smith) Watt in St. Louis, Mo., she grew up there 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 Oct. 5, 1941. Her husband’s job as a Kresge store manager brought them to Janesville. He passed away in 1986 and she then married Russell B. French in 1996. She graduated sum laude with a Bachelor of Education degree in English from UW-Whitewater in 1964 and from UW-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 instructed upper-level classes in Shakespeare and World Literature.

A member of Cargill Methodist Church in Janesville, she was a Sunday school teacher, Women’s Society Circle chairman, 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, she was active in Janesville Little Theater as an actress, board member, president and historian. She also was a board member and then a teacher for SLU (Seniors Learning Unlimited) at Beloit College where her class “Page and Stage” was popular. A board member of Hedberg Library’s Friends, she was a volunteer in the used book shop, assisted the Rock County Historical Society as a docent at the Lincoln Tallman House for many years and 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 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, they shared their home with Clancy, their Cavalier King Charles Spaniel.

She is survived by her husband, Russell B. French; children, Errell T. (Connie) Orear, Jr., of St. Louis, Mo., Susan Weddle, of Phillips and Dr. Jeffery (Barbara) Orear, of Peshtigo; 10 grandchildren and 11(soon-to-be 12) great-grandchildren.

She was preceded in death by her parents; a son, Randall W. Orear; her husband, Errell T. Orear and a sister, Billie Lou Studer.

Visitation will be held on Saturday, March 8 from 9:30 a.m. until time of the funeral service at 10:30 a.m. at the Schneider Apfel Schneider & Schneider Funeral Home and Crematory in Janesville. Rev. Jamie Swanson will preside and entombment will follow in Milton Lawns Memorial Park. Memorial donations may be made in her name to Janesville Little Theater, as she takes her last bow.


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