Betty Stekoll Richman
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May 9, 1921-Sept 25, 2012
Resident of Santa Cruz
Betty Stekoll Richman died peacefully on September 25, 2012, in Santa Cruz, California. She was 91. Betty was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma, to Harry (Aaron) and Anna (Chaika) Stekoll, Jewish immigrants from a small village near Riga, Latvia.
Betty graduated from Palo Alto High School in 1938 and earned a B.A. in art history from Stanford in 1942, having taken every art history class the University had to offer. She did her graduate work at the University of California, Berkeley, where she became a student of Professor Chiura Obata, the eminent Japanese watercolorist known for his paintings of Yosemite and for founding the art school in the wartime internment camp at Topaz, Utah.
Also in 1942, Betty married Chaim Richman, a graduate student in theoretical physics at Berkeley. The couple went to Los Alamos, New Mexico, during World War II, where Betty became the town's first librarian. There she gave birth to their first child, Stephen, although his birth certificate reads "P.O. Box 1663, Santa Fe," because of wartime security surrounding the Manhattan Project. When the war ended, the family returned to Berkeley, where their daughters Catherine and Anne were born.
In 1956, Betty and Chaim moved their family to Dallas, Texas. Their fourth child, Jeffrey, was born the following year. After the children started school, Betty worked as a medical office manager in an otolaryngology practice.
Betty and Chaim moved back to Los Alamos in 1971 and retired to Santa Cruz in 1980. They were long-time members of Temple Beth El Jewish Community Center in Aptos.
Betty had an abiding love of the ocean, gardening, and birds, and she was a gifted artist in many realms. She earned advanced certifications in ikebana, the Japanese art of flower arrangement, and won blue ribbons at the Texas state fair. Her watercolor paintings are in many private collections. She was especially drawn to capturing expressive faces. She also enjoyed painting with Chaim in the wetlands, strawberry fields, and quarries around Santa Cruz.
Betty was a devoted wife, sister, aunt, mother, and grandmother. She was an exceptionally generous person who enjoyed doing her daily mitzvot (good deeds).
Betty is survived by Chaim, her husband of 70 years; her sisters Ethel Stekoll Richman and Rachel Stekoll Bonds; four children: Stephen Richman, of Weston, Florida; Catherine Richman Cooper of Santa Cruz; Anne Richman of Oakland; and Jeffrey Richman of Goleta; and two grandsons, David Cooper and Daniel Richman. She was preceded in death by her brother Marion Stekoll.
The burial will be private. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to Hadassah (www.hadassah.org; firstname.lastname@example.org; 866-229-2395). Arrangements by Benito and Azzaro Pacific Gardens Chapel. Please visit www.pacificgardenschapel.com to light a candle or express your condolences to Betty's family. Betty will be missed, but she will always have a place in the hearts of her family, friends, and community.
Published in Santa Cruz Sentinel on Sept. 27, 2012