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Betty Louise (Manspeaker) Russell

October 2, 1924 ~ January 19, 2021 (age 96)


Betty Louise (Manspeaker) Russell passed away on Tuesday, January 19, 2021 at Homewood of Martinsburg.  Betty was born on October 2, 1924, the daughter of the late Grace (Foreman) and Frank Manspeaker of Bedford.   She is survived by her husband, James K. Russell of Bedford, a son J. Frank Russell (wife Linda) of Stockbridge, Massachusetts, granddaughter Kimberly Russell of Hanover, New Hampshire, and grandson James Russell (wife Brittany) of New Canaan, Connecticut.

Betty Manspeaker grew up and attended public schools in Bedford.   Her father owned a car dealership in town and her mother was a store cashier.  Betty was a good student and a member of the high school band in her later years, graduating in 1942.  In her senior year, she was elected Senior Class President, the first woman to ever be elected to that position at Bedford High.

After graduation, she took a position with the Glenn L. Martin Company in Baltimore, Md.  She became a draftsman and worked on the design and production of Martin bomber aircraft for the military.  She said that she knew men who were flying those planes in combat and she wanted to make sure everything was done right. Following the war, Betty attended the University of Alabama, and graduated in 1948 there with a degree in Biology.  She then took a job as a microbiologist with the pharmaceutic firm Merck and Co. in Rahway, New Jersey. 

After several years there and during a visit home to Bedford, she began to date her former high school classmate Jim Russell.  The relationship blossomed and in 1949, they were married at the Reformed Church in Bedford and they settled in town.  In 1952, their son was born.  Three years later they built a house on South Thomas Street in Bedford where they lived for over 50 years.

Betty was an active and fun individual and a loving and dedicated mother.  She was a strong tennis player, became a terrific golfer and bowler, and was a member of the championship golf teams at the Bedford Springs and the championship state bowling teams.   She was a tough bridge player and very good with crossword puzzles.  She joined the Bedford Presbyterian Church and served on Session, as a Trustee, and Treasurer of that organization and sang in the choir.  She volunteered actively for Bedford County Memorial Hospital and its auxiliary and also for the American Association of University Women.   She and Jim had very active lives and were often with numerous friends for golf, bowling and bridge.   They regularly attended Penn State football games with friends and Betty loved to listen to the Pittsburgh Pirates.  Jim and Betty bought a small home in Largo, Florida and they began to spend the winter months in that sunny and warm climate.

Betty was an extremely handy woman, having picked up those skills hanging around her dad’s garage as she grew up.  She had an excellent tool room in her basement and was able to repair and rebuild all sorts of things.  Her son still uses a roll top desk that Betty got from her father in law that she then totally rebuilt and refinished.

She was also a dedicated and loving mother and supported her son in school, then helped him decide on his future vocation.  With her and Jim’s support and blessing, he went away to college, then eventually moved to New York City for work and later married a woman he had met there.  Betty and Jim often travelled to visit their son’s family and babysit their two grandchildren in Connecticut, London England and finally Massachusetts.  Betty Russell was a terrific wife and mother to her family for nearly 70 years. Betty was as strong and true as the projects she made and repaired. She was as beautiful as her finished projects, She will be missed.

A memorial service will be announced at a later date.  Arrangements by the Timothy A. Berkebile Funeral Home in Bedford.  In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made in her name to the Bedford Presbyterian Church, P.O. Box 7, Bedford, PA 15522.  Our online guest book is available at

To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Betty Louise (Manspeaker) Russell, please visit our floral store.


Services are to be announced


Bedford Presbyterian Church
P.O. Box 7, Bedford PA 15522

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