Betty Rasberry McCommas, 92, passed from this life on October 6, 2023, at Twin Rivers Health and Rehabilitation in Arkadelphia, Arkansas.
Betty will be remembered as an extraordinary teacher with a quick wit and sassy spirit. She positively impacted the lives of thousands of students during her teaching career at Ouachita Baptist University.
Betty was born on August 29, 1931, in Paragould, Arkansas, to Maude and Shelby Rasberry. She graduated from Paragould High School and attended Baylor University where she received a B.A. in Religion and English in 1953, and a M.A. in Philosophy in 1954.
Hired by Ouachita in 1954 as Assistant to the President and Instructor in Philosophy, McCommas later became a full professor in the Department of English where she held the Betty Burton Peck Endowed Chair. She taught at Ouachita her entire career, retiring in 1998 after 44 years of service. During her career, she did further study at The University of Arkansas, Texas Tech University, University of Oregon, Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland and Oxford University in England. She attended numerous Shakespear festivals in Canada.
Among her many achievements, McCommas was voted the outstanding faculty member by the Ouachita Student Senate in 1973 and was listed in both Who’s Who in American Women and The Directory of American Scholars. She received a National Endowment for the Humanities Award and an Outstanding Educators of American Award. Before she retired, The Betty McCommas Endowed Scholarship was established at Ouachita in her honor by alumni and friends.
Betty was married to the late Jim McCommas, former Director of Financial Aid at Ouachita. The couple were members of First Baptist Arkadelphia where they taught a young married Sunday School class. Later, Jim served as Pastor of the First Christian Church in Arkadelphia. Following her husband’s death in 1983, Betty was asked to be the interim lay minister of First Christian. She continued to serve the small congregation for 32 years, although her church membership remained at First Baptist.
Betty was preceded in death by her husband and parents. Friends note that she brought her mother into her home and was her faithful caregiver.
Survivors include special friends Charles Chambliss of Clifton, Texas, Judy Schmidgall of Sheridan, Wyoming, Sharon Kolb of Arkadelphia, Shirley Hardin of Arkadelphia, Rick Foster of Paragould, Karen Wallace of Little Rock, Jonathan Besancon of South Elgin, Illinois, Jamie Sue Goldspink of Creswell, Oregon and Mary Beth Zeagler of Arkadelphia.
Betty will be buried next to her husband at Rest Haven Memorial Gardens in Arkadelphia. A graveside service will be held Thursday, October 12, 2023, at 2:00 p.m.
Memorials may be made to The Betty McCommas Endowed Scholarship, OBU Development Office, OBU Box 3754, Arkadelphia, AR 71998.
Arrangements are entrusted to Ruggles Wilcox Funeral Home, 517 Clay Street, Arkadelphia, Arkansas 71923. www.ruggleswilcox.com