Bette's Story

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Bette Jane (Wright) Menge died on March 25, 2017 in Newport, NH. She was born on April 20, 1924 to Katherine (Adams) and Monroe Wright in Muskogee, Oklahoma. She grew up during the Dust Bowl years in a family with five sisters, and at times they were quite poor. After graduating from Muskogee High School in 1942, she worked as secretary for the Colonel at Camp Gruber. First Lieutenant Carleton Menge invited Bette to a dance, where they fell in love. Carl kept a photograph of Bette from their first date in his wallet until his death in 2010.
After the war, Bette attended Oklahoma State College for one year while Carl pursued his Ph.D. at the University of Chicago. They were married in 1946 and she joined him in Chicago. In 1948 Carl was offered a teaching position at the University of New Hampshire. They made their home in a large 1825 farmhouse in Durham for the next 44 years where they raised four children. Bette was an early proponent of healthy living, and in the early 1960's opened a health food store in her home, called Durham Village Kitchen. She also held several jobs at UNH, including secretary for the French and Italian department, and assistant to Dr. Fred Jervis in the Psychology department. When Dr. Jervis left the university to found The Center for Constructive Change in 1971, Bette continued to work for him as an assistant and program developer. The Center focused its work on human empowerment through constructive rather than reactive behavior. She also served on the board of directors for the Dover Children's Home, volunteered for Democratic candidates including then-state senator Jeanne Shaheen, and had close friendships with several women in Durham. Though she loved her professional career, Bette's primary focus was her family. She raised her children with purpose and love, and cherished time spent with her grandchildren, to whom she was "Grammy".
In 1994, Bette and Carl moved to Grantham, NH to enjoy their retirement. Bette is survived by her children and their families; Chris and Virginia Menge of Sudbury MA, Cathie and Jim Mirakian of Hebron, CT, Jackie and Dan Clary of Durham, NC, and Scott and Donna Menge of Raleigh, NC; her nine grandchildren; and her six great grandchildren.
Bette was predeceased by her husband Carl, and her five sisters. A family celebration of Bette's life will be held at a later date. Memorial contributions can be sent to the charity of your choice. Condolences may be sent to the family in care of her daughter Jackie at clary181@gmail.com.
Published on March 31, 2017
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