Oregon Mayor Mike Seferian served as Master of Ceremonies, and
representatives of the Lucas County Soil and Water Conservation District and the Oregon City Schools District were in attendance at Oregon’s Betty Carstensen Memorial Arbor Day held at Coy School off Pickle Road on April 30.
“There’s really no one in the area who has probably done more for promoting trees and conservation, let alone all the other things she had done,” said Don Charlton, chairperson of the Oregon Tree Commission, which sponsored the event.
On Friday, several ornamental and columnar trees were planted around a European Purple Beech tree, which was planted in the center of the east side traffic circle in front of the school last fall in memory of Betty.
“Generally speaking, I think it’s safe to say that everyone who was there was glad they were able to attend. It was a very positive, heartwarming experience,” said Charlton after the event.
“It was well attended, and we felt it was a very memorable occasion. The European Purple Beech tree and surrounding trees are now highly visible from the school and Pickle Road,” said Charlton.
The trees, as well as those who worked on the event “together will serve as a living legacy in honor and memory of Mrs. Carstensen’s absolute integrity and plain goodness during her well over 50 years of remarkable service to the community in so many ways,” said Charlton. “Her memorial is one in which our city, along with our neighboring communities, can be most proud. And I really, really believe that. It’s something that residents and people who pass by the school on Pickle can say `That’s pretty neat.’ It’s distinctive, and as time goes by, it will become even more beautiful.”
Carstensen was 85-years-old and finishing her fourth term on the Oregon school board when she died last Sept. 5 following a stroke. She had served on the board since 1993 and had planned on running for a fifth term in November. She was a strong proponent of literacy education and spent many hours volunteering her time reading to elementary students. She was also a fierce advocate of tree planting and tree education while serving the Jerusalem and Oregon communities for over 50 years. She personally distributed thousands of tree seedlings along with planting instructions to Oregon-Jerusalem first graders for over 40 years.
In 2006, Carstensen received a regional Jefferson Award, which honors individuals for their achievements and contributions through public and community service. Award winners are described by Jefferson Award officials as “grassroots unsung heroes – ordinary individuals who are performing extraordinary deeds.”
Unfortunately, Carstensen’s award, a golden medallion, was destroyed, along with other mementos, family photos and other personal items in a fire at her Veler Road home not long after she died.
Eric Bergman, and his wife, Susan Orosz, decided to pursue a replacement award for Carstensen’s heirs.
Bergman told The Press that he and his wife were able to get the replacement medal from the national office of the Jefferson Awards just days before the Arbor Day event, where it was given to one of Carstensen’s children.
“We wanted her family to have something from their mother that was a significant memory for her,” said Bergman. “She was quietly proud of that award. And what better time to present the replacement award than at an event like Oregon’s Betty Carstensen Memorial Arbor Day.