LIMA — In August 1990, 76-year-old Betty McBride was selected as the Allen County Senior Citizen of the Year by the Ohio Department of Aging. She was, predictably, humble in accepting the honor.
“I don’t know that I’m any more outstanding than a lot of other senior citizens,” McBride told The Lima News. “I don’t feel that I do all that much anymore. I guess that’s one of the advantages of getting old, you don’t have to do quite so much.”
Although she was still very active with travel, yard work and growing flowers, it would have been difficult for McBride to do any more than she had already done. When she died at the age of 90 on April 9, 2004, The Lima News noted in her obituary that she had been a homemaker, which she certainly was, raising three sons with her husband, Dr. James M. McBride.
She also was much more. A member of Market Street Presbyterian Church since 1938, she served as a deacon, elder and Sunday school teacher. She was the first woman elected as moderator of the Maumee Valley Presbytery and was active in Church Women United, serving as the group’s president from 1963 to 1964.
“Without a doubt that (the church) is what I get the most out of and what I give the most to,” McBride told the News in 1990. “I think (church work) is worthwhile. I like to do things for other people. All those years on the national church board gave me an idea of what the church does in the world.”
For several years she served as president of the board of the Cheryl Allen South Side Center (formerly known as the Mizpah Community Center) and had served on the boards of the Allen County Council on Aging and Elderly Day Care Center. She was active in the Lima Memorial Hospital Auxiliary and served on its Chaplains Committee. She had been a member and secretary of Ecumenical Mission and Relations and had served as a mission volunteer at Miraj Hospital, Miraj, India, over Christmas holidays.
According to the News McBride was a “strong advocate” of civil rights in her work with religious and civic organizations. She also had been active with the League of Women Voters, Women’s Literary Club and the Allen County Museum’s Christmas Tree Festival.
In addition to being honored by the agency on aging, McBride received the Church Women United’s Valiant Woman Award, the NAACP Woman of the Year Award, the Bradfield Lioness Award, the Bradfield Community Center’s Ebony and Ivory Award, The Lima News’ Women of Achievement Award, the La Sertoma Club’s Woman of the Year award and Frontier International’s Humanitarian Award.
On Oct. 6, 1974, responding to a question from the News about women in the ministry, McBride said, “Women should be able to be free to use their talents and abilities just as a man, and I’ve seen a good many who can.” She saw one every time she looked in the mirror.
McBride was born Nov. 14, 1913, one of five children of Hoyt Carlton and Carrie Gamble Partch. According to the 1920 federal census, her father, who came to Allen County from Vermont early in the 20th century, operated a creamery in Sugar Creek Township. McBride remembered hers as a church-going family with her father teaching Bible school. “Life without the church would be pretty empty as far as I’m concerned,” McBride said.
After graduating from Gomer High School, she attended Indiana University and then entered nurses training at Lima’s City Hospital in the fall of 1931. While in nurses’ training, she found time to take part in school musical activities, playing piano at many school functions, as well as develop her basketball skills.
“An all-star girls basketball team chosen from 10 teams in the Lima YWCA league will meet the Toledo YWCA girls in the gym of the local association at 8 p.m. Saturday …,” the News reported Feb. 12, 1932. Betty Partch (McBride), of the City Hospital Team, was one of the Lima YWCA all-stars.
In May 1933, Lima’s City Hospital, which was established in 1899 with a three-member staff, closed and the new Lima Memorial Hospital opened with a staff of 169, including student nurse Betty Partch, according to the May 29, 1933, edition of the News. A year later, in May 1934, Betty Partch was one of 12 members of the 1934 graduating class of the Lima Memorial Hospital school of nursing.
The City Hospital building on East Market Street would stand for nearly seven decades after the last patient was transferred to Memorial Hospital in 1933, used mostly as an apartment building. When it was razed in 2002 to make way for the new Lima Senior High School, McBride recalled meeting her future husband, Dr. James M. McBride, there.
“He was a resident doctor and I was in nursing school and that’s where we met. Then on New Year’s Day in 1938, we married and had a wonderful life together,” McBride told the News on April 24, 2002.
“While doing her volunteer service and working at Lima Memorial Hospital, McBride raised three sons in the house on South Pears Avenue, where she has lived for 52 years,” the News wrote in 1990. “Her husband, Dr. J.M. McBride, who died in 1984, was an orthopedic surgeon.”
The McBrides’ three sons, James Michael, John Thomas and William Alan, all were graduated from Harvard University. “My husband liked to travel so we did a lot of traveling after our kids were grown,” she said.
After the death of her husband, McBride’s sister, Martha Evans moved in with her. “The sisters enjoy traveling and have visited the birthplace of their hometown’s (Gomer’s) settlers — Wales. They have also gone elder hosteling in this country,” the News wrote in 1990.
“I always wonder what it would be like to get up and not know what you’re going to do that day. I always have something to do,” McBride said.
Reach Greg Hoersten at firstname.lastname@example.org.