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Bergthold continues to impact young women

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POSTED May 10, 2014 1:30 a.m.

Before “Woman of Substance” even became known as the title of a bestseller book, or a catch phrase of the feminist movement, there was Betty Bergthold.

When she passed away several years ago, her daughter Debbie came up with the idea that would keep not only the memory of her mother in perpetuity but also to recognize and assist promising young women who embody what the longtime Manteca businesswoman stood for in life.

Bergthold was a business owner and operator alongside her husband, Charles, at a time when it was rare for a woman to be in that capacity. What they owned was not just any business either. It was the Bergthold Mortuary. The couple had three children, but Bergthold was not the traditional stay-at-home wife and mother while the husband brought home the bacon. She played an active role in the family business. And that was not just by association or marriage. Bergthold actually held a mortician’s license at a time when it was unheard of for a woman to be in that line of work.

It was while she was she was attending mortuary school in Southern California that she, in fact, met her husband in the 1940s.

Bergthold Mortuary, which was located on the northwest corner of West Center Street and Maple Avenue in downtown Manteca, was later acquired by P.L. Fry & Son, another longtime family business in Manteca. Today, the building across the street to the north from the Post Office and to the west from Chase Bank, is a day spa.

Running a business, however, did not consume all of Bergthold’s time and attention. She was an active member of the community and volunteered as a mentor to young girls in town. She was an advisor to a girls’ group. She was described by people who knew her well as someone who “talked the walk and talked the talk,” as well as “a woman of her word and one you could always count on.”

Bergthold continued to make an impact among women and in her community until her death as a member of the Manteca Soroptimists. She was a charter member of the women’s service club, and ws one of the original members when the organization was established in Manteca in 1953. She was the club’s third president, and in later years, also held various capacities in many of the group’s community projects.

It was Begthold’s passion for learning and education which inspired her daughter to set up the scholarship in her name in hopes that the young recipients also would make a difference in the life of promising young women.

The latest to receive the $2,000 Betty Bergthold Memorial Scholarship through Soroptimist International of Manteca is Poonam Kaur Dehal, a graduating senior at Manteca High. The scholarship was presented to Dehal during the annual Soroptimist Awards Night on April 29 held at the Manteca Senior Center. The scholarship award is now in its 13th year.

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