Frederick M. Betz, Sr. papers
Scope and Contents
The Fred M. Betz, Sr. Papers consists primarily of correspondence (1920-1964). The first section pertains to personal correspondence (1920-1950) with friends and associates and reflects his interests in many subjects. The bulk of the remaining correspondence relates to Mr. Betz’s political campaigns for Congress from the Third District of Colorado (1958 and 1960) and his involvement in local and state politics. Prominent state and national figures are correspondents including Drew Pearson, Estes Kefauver, Senator John A. Carroll, Governor Stephen McNichols (Colorado), Senator Gordon Allott, J. Edgar Chenoweth and many others.
Personal items in the collection are financial bills and receipts, certificates, mementoes, photographs and newspaper clippings.
- 1920 - 1964
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Frederick McLean Betz was born in Liberal, Missouri on June 2, 1896 and in this area he spent his childhood years. After graduating from Liberal High School, he moved to Poplar Bluff, Missouri at the age of seventeen where he began his career in publishing and printing and, in 1917, met and married Lennie Maud Coffman. In 1920, the couple moved to Lamar, Colorado where Betz became the publisher of the Lamar Tri-State Daily News after which he ended up becoming the editor and proprietor of the Betz Publishing Co., Inc., which owned and operated three weekly newspapers. The daily newspaper he created had editorially supported many of the issues of interest to Betz, including agriculture, labor, minority groups, and the welfare of the people. Mr. Betz won more than 40 awards for his newspapers including Editor of the Year in 1950 and Publisher of the Year in 1968 by the Colorado Press Association. Betz and his wife had their only son in 1926, Frederick M. Betz Jr., who ended up becoming the publisher of the Lamar Daily News, succeeding his father.
Fred M. Betz for most of his life had been active in politics and the Democratic Party, although he did not always agree with the state’s Democratic leaders. He opposed the repeal of the 18th Amendment and reportedly was told to stay out of the state by “Big Ed” Johnson during the 1932 political campaign. Through Senator Edward P. Costigan’s influence, Betz was appointed a member of the Farm Credit Administration Board in Wichita, Kansas, and was a delegate at the National Convention in 1932. President Franklin Roosevelt appointed him to the Farm Security Administration (now known as the Farmers Home Administration) during the 1930’s. He was Regional Director of the organization from 1935 to 1938 focusing his work on controlling dust bowl problems.
Betz’s fellow Democrats named him State Chairman in 1955, and he also served as Administrative Assistant to Senator John A. Carroll during the first half of the 85th Congress. He resigned his position as State Chairman, after having given his party strong leadership for two terms, to become a candidate for Congress in 1958. For two elections he was the Democratic Party’s nominee for Congress to represent the Third District.
Besides his interest in state and national politics, Betz was a former member of the Lamar City Council and was credited with fathering the idea of CAVI, a strong regional organization dedicated to boosting the Arkansas Valley.
In recognition of his long-standing interest in education, Lamar Community College named one of its buildings the Fred M. Betz, Sr. Vocational-Technical Building in 1969. Betz also became a Regent for the University of Colorado in 1964. Betz died on December 27, 1982 at the age of 86 from cancer which he had been battling for over a year.
9 linear feet (17 boxes)
Language of Materials
Frederick M. Betz (1896-1982) moved to Lamar, Colorado, in 1920 and became editor and publisher of the Lamar Daily News. An active Democrat, Betz served as Regional Director of the Farm Security Administration (1935-1938), State Chairman of the Democratic Party, Administrative Assistant to Senator John A. Carroll, candidate for Congress twice, and a member of the University of Colorado Board of Regents (1964-1970, 1976-1982). The collection contains personal and political correspondence dating from 1920 to 1964. Further materials are stored at the Big Timbers Museum in Lamar, requiring family permission for access.
This collection is arranged in the following series: Series 1: Personal Papers, 1920-1950 Subseries a: Correspondence, 1920-1950 Subseries b: Financial, 1936-1949 Subseries c: Certificates, 1924-1942 Series 2: General Files, 1940-1950 Series 3: Personal and Political Files, 1951-1954 Series 4: Political Files, 1958-1960 Subseries a: Reference Information, n.d. Subseries b: Campaign Activities, n.d. Series 5: Political Files, 1961-1964
- Processed by: Doris Mitterling, June 1975 Edited by: John A. Brennan, June 1975 Reformatted and Rehoused by: Kerry Petrie, December 2010
- December 2010
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