Betty Hagen Maseng

Betty Hagen Maseng, 92, of Columbia, passed away peacefully in her home Monday morning, April 8, 2019, surrounded by her family.

A beloved wife, mother, grandmother and great grandmother, Betty was born in Oak Park, IL, on July 11, 1926, the daughter of Angela Jansen Hagen and Oscar Hagen, Norwegian immigrants. She attended Austin High School in Chicago, and Monmouth College in Illinois, class of 1948. At Monmouth she was a member of the Alpha Chapter of the Pi Beta Phi Sorority, the national professional English fraternity Sigma Tau Delta, and member of the Honorary Biology Fraternity, Beta Beta Beta. In 1948 she married Leif Erik Maseng, also the offspring of Scandinavian immigrants, and a World War II Veteran. She moved with her husband to Urbana, IL, when Leif was accepted to the University of Illinois on the G.I. Bill of Continuing Education. While her husband studied engineering, Betty worked for the Lewis Department Store in sales, then as a buyer and as a model. Betty coached contestants in the Miss Illinois contest of the Miss America competition, on presentation and modeling.

Leif and Betty started their family in Rolling Meadows, IL, a suburb of Chicago. Shortly after, they moved to Lexington, KY, where Betty was active in politics and the John F. Kennedy Presidential Campaign. After moving to Columbia, SC, in 1964, Leif’s work took the family to Melbourne, Australia, where they lived for four years. In Australia, Betty became an avid tennis player and hostess. The family moved back to Columbia in 1969, and Betty enrolled in the University of South Carolina School of Continuing Education, studying early childhood education. She was an adored pre-school teacher at St. Michael’s and All Angel’s Episcopal Church from 1972 to 1981, a member of the South Carolina Early Childhood Association, and an instructor at various early childhood education workshops. Her love of children and the teaching of God’s Word was central to Betty’s life, infused the lives of the children she taught and was obvious to all she met.

Everywhere Betty lived, she threw herself in the life of her community. In Rolling Meadows, she and Leif helped start a church and she became the superintendent of the Sunday school. In Lexington she was the director of Sunday pre-school, a Girl Scout leader and helped start a Pi Beta Phi chapter at the University of Kentucky. She also held various leadership positions in the PTA of her daughters’ school. In Columbia she taught Sunday school and was, again, a Girl Scout leader. She was a member of the Columbia Garden Club, where she served in almost every office, and received an Honorary Life Membership after 32 years of service and leadership. She also was made an Honorary Life Member of the Women of First Presbyterian Church and was, for 20 years, a leader of the Remnant Sunday School class there, of which she was a founding member. She was a member of the Driftwood Garden Club and The Book Club. Betty was active in the effort to beautify Greater Columbia and worked with the City of Columbia and Richland County to introduce and promote the Keep America Beautiful campaign. She also participated in the first School Supply Drives with the Cooperative Ministries and later with New Hope Ministries.

Surviving are her beloved husband of 70 years, Leif Erik Maseng, registered professional engineer; sister Nancy Frank of Concord, MA; daughters Nancy Elise Maseng (Joe Watterson) of Columbia; Mari Maseng Will (George) of Chevy Chase, MD; Lisa Ann Maseng (Richard White) of Columbia; granddaughter Parke Espy Jones (Brandon) of Columbia; grandson, David Maseng Will, presently working in Hong Kong; nine step-granddaughters and step-grandsons, including Nick, Max and Joy White of Columbia; and great-grandson Erik Jones.

The memorial service will be on Monday, April 15, at 11:00am at First Presbyterian Church, 1324 Marion St, Columbia, SC. A reception at the church, in Jackson Hall, will follow. Funeral arrangements are being coordinated by Shives Funeral Home, Trenholm Road Chapel

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