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Obituary Listings

Robert "Marc" Betz

December 24, 1948 October 24, 2020
Robert "Marc" Betz
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Obituary for Robert "Marc" Betz

Corvallis- Robert “Marc” Betz was born on December 24, 1948 in Evanston, Illinois to Carl Richard and Ruth Adeline (Rehder) Betz. He was the youngest of the three Betz boys. They lived in Park Ridge, Illinois until he was nine years old. Those formative years turned him and his brothers into a lifelong Chicago Cubs fan.

When he was nine, the family moved to Phoenix, Arizona. His parents divorced a year later, leaving his mother with little money and the three boys. Marc and his two brothers graduated from North Phoenix High School. Although Marc was an indifferent, unmotivated student in high school, once he started attending Phoenix College, the nearby community college, he got straight As and became deeply involved in the theatre program.

After graduating with an associate’s degree from Phoenix College in 1969, he headed to New York City, where his brother Alan was living. Marc moved into a tiny cockroach-infested apartment in a building slated for demolition and worked at the Columbia University Science Library for eight months. However, now that he was out of school, he lost his student deferment from the draft for the Vietnam War. He received his draft notice and in April, 1970, instead of being drafted into the Army, he enlisted for four years in the Air Force.

After basic training, he was sent to tech school for electronics. From there, Airman Betz was assigned to the calibration lab at Davis Monthan Air Base in Tucson.

He was not the best airman in the Air Force. Once, when he was sitting outside the lab at Davis-Monthan with one of the sergeants, taking a break, a plane was coming in. He said the sergeant, “That’s a really big plane!”

The sergeant said, “Betz, if you’re going to be in the Air Force, you need to recognize a B-52.”

After Davis-Monthan, he was sent to West Berlin and worked in the calibration lab there. In 1974, he was was honorably discharged with the rank of sergeant and could recognize a B-52. He was 24 years old. He took his discharge in Berlin, and set off hitchhiking around Europe, wearing his fatigue jacket and carrying his first Nikon camera.

After a few weeks on the road, thanks to the drivers who picked him up and gave him advice, meals, equipment and sometimes a place to stay, he acquired a backpack, tent, sleeping bag and cookware so he could save money by camping. He was determined to see as much of Europe as possible while making his money go as far as possible. A few things he took to extremes. In Spain, to save money, he lived mainly on bread and sardines. After Spain, he never ate another sardine. He didn’t pay admission to go up anything, including the Eiffel Tower and the Leaning Tower of Pisa.

Marc traveled in Europe for six months and then took his free military flight back to the U.S., landing in Delaware. Then he hitchhiked across the country, home to Phoenix.  

In August, 1975, Marc started at the University of Arizona in Tucson, using the GI Bill to pay for his education. His plan was to attend school for a single semester, take twelve credits to get the maximum GI Bill benefit, work a part time job and live cheaply, saving money.

After the fall semester ended, he picked up his backpack and set off hitchhiking again, this time to South America. He made it as far as Cuzco, Peru and then took the mail plane to Manaus, Brazil, where the Amazon begins. He had planned to take a boat down the Amazon, but at Manaus, he couldn’t even see the other bank of the river and realized that he wouldn’t see anything but the water on a boat. He turned around, first taking a flight back to Cuzco, sitting on top of bags of dried fish and watched the jungle go by though the doorway where the cargo door had once been. Then he started hitchhiking north.

In August, he was back at the University of Arizona, planning to attend two consecutive semesters this time, because he had come up with another plan. It was during his second semester that he met his future wife, Rosalind Ann Hutton, in a philosophy class. Despite having a new girlfriend, he stuck to his plan, which involved the Honors program he was in.  He was going to do an Honors research project in Ireland the next fall semester. Since the Honors project was a “class,” he could register for twelve credits, have the GI bill pay for the fall semester and live in Dublin, Ireland.

At the end of his “semester” in Dublin, he flew to San Francisco, to live at his father’s house and help his brother, Alan, who was building an addition onto his father’s house, which was nearly as large as the house itself. Marc ran errands for Alan and also wrote a very long paper for his Honors project, a history of the town of Cashel, County Tipperary, Ireland.

In August, 1978, Marc returned to the University of Arizona and reunited with Rosalind. He continued with his usual plan of GI bill benefits, parttime job and living cheaply, although he was focused on getting his bachelor’s degree this academic year. He received his bachelor’s degree in history in May, 1979. That summer, he hitchhiked and camped through Great Britain and Ireland.

He was not quite done with school and was back at the University of Arizona in August to start a one-year master’s degree in teaching English as a Second Language (ESL). He was sure that degree was the key to travel and getting paid for it at the same time. After graduating with his master’s degree and Rosalind graduating with her bachelor’s degree, they traveled that summer on exceptionally little money (even by his standards) through Mexico and Guatemala.

In August, they moved to Corvallis, where Rosalind had a job lined up. Marc became a parttime ESL instructor at Linn Benton Community College. The other parts of his time were used in playing music, mostly Renaissance and Baroque on the recorder with other musicians in the community.

Rosalind and Marc married on September 6, 1981 in Corvallis, Oregon. In the fall of 1982, the couple moved to Changsha, Hunan Province, China for two years. Marc, with the title of Foreign Expert, taught ESL at Hunan University.  (Rosalind taught English too, but she was only a Foreign Worker.) They left China after two years in September, 1984, taking the long way home. They started on their journey aboard the Trans-Mongolian Railway, from Beijing to Moscow. From Moscow, they went south to Kiev, then through Romania and Bulgaria to Turkey. Marc taught English in Izmir, Turkey for six months, and then they started traveling again. In October, 1985, they arrived in London, where they bought airline tickets to California with the last of their money.

They settled down in San Jose, California, where Marc taught ESL at San Jose City College and the Center for Southeast Asian Refugee Resettlement. After three years, frustrated by the low pay, lack of benefits and lack of stability, he found a job with Fujitsu America working as an editor and writer, in charge of translations of Japanese manuals to English. One of the notable benefits of the job, for him, was that the company sent him to Japan several times.

In San Jose, he discovered another sport in addition to his first love, baseball. This was soccer. In his thirties, he started playing on city recreational league teams.  When he was forty-three, after buying a small house near downtown San Jose, Rosalind and Marc’s first child, Hazel, was born. Even though he started late, Marc was thrilled with having a family and adored his children.

Tiring of his job and the Bay Area, he and Rosalind came back to Corvallis in 1995, where he began working for Rogue Wave Software as a technical writer. He was documentation manager there when he retired in 2016.  

Marc loved Corvallis and happily raised his family there, which now included his second child, Simon, born a few months after arriving in Corvallis. He bought his dream house, a 1914 Craftsman near downtown. The house had a full basement where he kept his tools, along with the many bins and drawers of hardware and stacks of new and recycled lumber that he might need some day for something.

He went to every Fall Festival and da Vinci Days that was held. For five years, he was also as a team member for a human-powered kinetic sculpture competing in the Kinetic Sculpture Race held during da Vinci days. He helped decorate the sculptures; rode his bicycle alongside the sculpture through the races; wore the team costumes; sang and danced the songs the team composed every year; and gave out the expected and required bribes for the judges.

During his vacations, he and his family camped and traveled. They took three trips to Europe, starting when Hazel was nine and Simon was five.  They also traveled all over the United States, including two trips that included spring training in Arizona so he could see his Chicago Cubs play.

He encouraged his children to play baseball and softball, but especially soccer. He was active in American Youth Soccer Organization in Corvallis for more than ten years as referee, coach and board member. He watched every soccer game his children played. He continued to play soccer himself, into his sixties, when despite playing “old man soccer,” as he called it, which was to let anyone younger just have the ball, he finally, reluctantly, stopped playing.  Although he stopped playing, he continued to avidly watch professional soccer until just a couple weeks before he died. 

In the fall of 2016, when he was sixty-eight years old, surrounded by his family, he watched his Chicago Cubs finally win the World Series. He had been waiting for more than sixty years to see it and came close to crying at the end of the final game.   

After he retired on December 31, 2016, his plan was to take up photography seriously, again, and to travel. He bought himself a new Nikon camera and then he and Rosalind went to Cuba; took a long road trip through the American Southwest (with a Cubs spring training game worked in); returned to Berlin, which was a much different city than when he was there in the seventies; visited Normandy, France and was planning a trip to South Africa when he was diagnosed with lymphoma.

Also, in his retirement, he was active in Mid-Valley Health Care Advocates, which works to bring affordable single-payer health care to Oregon and the nation. He was the chair of the Outreach Committee and was a board member.

On October 24, 2020 Marc passed away in Corvallis, Oregon.  He was preceded in passing by his parents, Carl and Ruth and brother, Carl Richard Betz II. He is survived by his wife, Rosalind; children, Hazel Rosalind Betz and Simon Keith Hutton; and brother, Alan Prentice Betz.

A Zoom memorial service will be held on December 5, 1:00 pm, PST. In order to attend, please email to keith2sav@gmail.com for a Zoom invite. 

Memorial contributions can be made to Mid Valley Health Care Advocates, www.mvhca.org  or Linn Benton Food Share, communityservices.us/linn-benton-food-share/ or the food bank of your choice.

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