Dr. Betty Jane Barr
September 10, 1945 – November 1, 2019
A lifelong Houston native, Betty Barr’s story can best be defined by her passion for teaching and the generations of students who were rewarded in life for taking Dr. Barr’s classes as she prepared them for future success. The only daughter of Mildred Harrison Barr and Archie C. Barr, Betty was born September 10, 1945 and grew up and lived her life in Lindale Park where she graduated from Jefferson Davis High School. Betty was an active teen. She was a member of the Jeff Davis High School Carlton Cadets. She also held the office of Worthy Advisor of Faith Assembly #109, Order of the Rainbow for Girls. Although Betty did not have siblings, she is survived by her cousin Evelyn Harrison Yurgensen who was as close to a sister, travel companion, and best friend as she could want as they were raised together separated in age by only 3 months. This sister relationship that started as young children traveling with their parents and continued throughout their adult lives with most holidays and many trips spent together exploring many cultural and vacation destinations as Cousin Betty and Cousin Evelyn as they always referred to one another. Betty earned her B.S, M.S, and Ph.D. in Mathematics from the University of Houston and then joined the University in 1971 when a position for a linear algebra instructor opened up in the Department of Industrial Engineering and she never left until she retired in 2011 after a 40 year career with the University. When Betty joined the college as an assistant professor, times were a little different. As one of the first female faculty members hired in the college, Betty not only was challenged to develop a professional pathway for herself, but also to become a mentor to small batches of women who decided to pursue engineering as a career, charting their own pathways. She described it best as “There were not even women’s bathroom in the engineering building”. It wasn’t long before she began instructing programming courses, migrating over into the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, where she helped build and modify the undergraduate curriculum and served as the primary undergraduate advisor for 24 years and generations of Cougar engineers while being promoted to Associate Professor and then Associate Chair of the Department. Betty was also involved over the years as the faculty advisor for the Society of Women Engineers and the Texas Epsilon Chapter of Tau Beta Pi.and even infamously designed mathematical problems for her peers to solve in the slide rule competition at the annual IEEE Chili Cook Off. Betty was the definition of a dedicated professor to her students and university, often sacrificing her weekends and holidays to ensure that she had her papers corrected and student’s grades recorded. She did this because she always insisted that she needed to get it done for her students as they needed to know how they did. Betty had this same dedication and passion about her parents and especially her mother, Mildred, who survived her husband Archie by 27 years. Betty was very close to her mother and served as her care-giver for many years, often balancing long work days at the university with being there for her mother. Betty was even known to bring Mildred to the office with her so that she could get those last papers graded while still spending time with her mother. Her passion for teaching brought her great recognition over the years including: • UH Cullen College of Engineering Career Teaching Award – awarded 2 separate times • Provost Faculty Advising Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Academic Advising, • IEEE Region 5 Outstanding Engineering Educator Award • Abraham E. Dukler Distinguished Engineering Faculty Award from the Engineering Alumni Association • Outstanding Teaching Award from the College of Engineering • George Magner Academic Advising Award • Outstanding Faculty Advisor Award given by engineering student organizations The culmination of her career and her wish to continue helping further women in engineering was the creation of the Betty Barr Scholarship which is awarded annually to a female student in the Department of Engineering and Computer Engineering based on academics, financial need, as well as demonstrating leadership qualities. In addition to teaching and mentoring, Betty was very active with her church having been a longtime member and church leader of Northside Methodist and Reed Memorial Methodist Churches in the Lindale Park area for over 50 years before becoming an active member of St. Mark’s United Methodist Church in Woodland Heights in recent years. Betty was also a member of the Order of the Eastern Star for over 50 years. She served as the Worthy Matron for Rothwell Chapter #699 as well as numerous local and state offices and more recently was a part of Aldine Chapter #1088. Betty Barr passed away on November 1, 2019. She is preceded in death by her parents, Archie C. Barr and Mildred Harrison Barr. She is survived by her close cousin, Evelyn Harrison Yurgensen, of Houston and Evelyn’s daughter, Tonya Yurgensen-Jacks and her husband Kevin Jacks of Houston as well as a host of other cousins. Visitation will be 4pm to 7pm on Friday, November 8th at Heights Funeral Home with Funeral scheduled for Saturday, November 9th at 10am also at Heights Funeral Home.
- Several Cousins
- Visitation Friday, November 8, 2019
- Funeral Service Saturday, November 9, 2019
Dr. Betty Jane Barr
November 8, 2019
Betty was a faithful servant of God, member of St. Marks UMC and the MMM class. She was always prepared for her Sunday School class. When she talked, we all listened. She was wise and had a great mind. She was much loved and will be missed.
Diana de la Rosa-Pohl
November 6, 2019
It was such a joy to be your next-door neighbor at work for my early years in the department. I always looked forward to our weekly discussions about the TV series Lost. And your undying dedication to students will forever be an inspiration for me. You were a champion of Student Success before it was cool, and also a great role model and friend. We will never forget you. Thank you for all of those wonderful memories.
November 5, 2019
Thank you, Dr. Barr, for being a kind and caring professor. I truly appreciate your support and guidance. May the Lord comfort your family during this difficult time and give them His peace that surpasses understanding.
November 4, 2019
I took linear algebra from Dr Barr around 1973. The class was large, as I recall, perhaps 30-40 students. Dr Barr did not have assigned seating in the auditorium in which we met, and I never went to her office for consultation. So I assumed I had remained anonymous throughout the semester. However, when I took a proctoring job a year later for a self-paced statistics class taught by another professor, I dropped in on Dr Barr's lecture section of the same class to see how she taught the material. To my amazement, she called me by name. That is just one tiny example of how she cared about the students she taught.
November 4, 2019
I would like to direct those of you who knew Betty to a nice article written about her at the time of her retirement. The link is given below:
November 4, 2019
Betty, you will be truly missed by all your Order of the Eastern Star sisters at Aldine Chapter #1088 and so many other Chapters as well. I am honored to have had your friendship. You taught me so much about Eastern Star. You were one of the sweetest ladies I have ever known and had so much knowledge to share with others. I will miss you greatly. Rest in peace and may God be with your family members and soften their grief.
November 4, 2019
Thank you Dr. Barr for creating a code which made checking enrollment easy during my years with ECE. You were always so supportive of graduate functions even though your main involvement was in the undergraduates. I appreciated you and thank you for knowing you while you were with us here on Earth.
May the Lord bless your family with peace, comfort, and healing during this time.