ONALASKA – Betty F. Heuslein, 95, passed away peacefully on Wednesday, February 9, 2022 with her family by her side in Onalaska’s SpringBrook community. Betty was born Elizabeth June Frize on May 8, 1926 in Pontiac, Illinois to her parents, George P. Frize and Helen Todd Frise. She grew up in Eau Claire, Wisconsin and graduated from Eau Claire High School in 1944. She then earned her bachelor’s degree in business administration from Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio.
During her college days, Betty participated in Antioch’s innovative work study program and worked in Chicago as a buyer at Carson Pirie Scott department store and also at Time-Life in New York City. At Antioch College, Betty Frize met her future husband, Adam Heuslein, who was earning his bachelor’s degree in engineering. Adam was a World War II veteran in the US Army Corps of Engineers who served in the Battle of the Bulge. They were married on September 1, 1951 at the Presbyterian Cargill House in La Crosse.
After spending the early years of their marriage in Connecticut, they settled in La Crosse. The Heusleins were one of the original families living in the Wedgewood Valley in the La Crosse County town of Shelby.
In the early 1960s, Betty was a widow when she was only in her thirties and had three young children who she was left to raise alone. She then began her business career as a single working mother and became an executive at La Crosse Concrete Company, a business founded in 1947 by her parents, George “Rusty” Frise and Helen Frise. La Crosse Concrete Company specializes in ready-mixed concrete and concrete pipes.
Betty and her brother Robert “Bob” Frize were the primary owners when the operations of the La Crosse Concrete Company were later acquired by the Material Service Corporation.
Betty and Bob were also the co-founders and principal owners of River States Truck and Trailer (Freightliner Trucks) and its sister company, La Crosse Truck Center (Mack Trucks and Ford Trucks).
Betty was a longtime trustee and later emeritus trustee of Northland College and its Sigurd Olson Environmental Institute in Ashland, Wisconsin. She was a member of the American Association of University Women and an active, long-time participant in AAUW’s Bookfellows study group at La Crosse. Betty was an avid reader and her home was always filled with many books. When traveling, Betty was instantly drawn to every bookstore she encountered.
Betty has been involved with the La Crosse Community (Children’s) Theater, appearing in productions such as Aladdin and Jack and the Beanstalk. She also enjoyed attending performances at the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis. Betty was a member of the West Salem Historical Society and enjoyed giving tours of their historic homes in West Salem, Wisconsin.
As a reflection of her longstanding concern for the environment, Betty was one of the people behind the founding of the Mississippi Valley Conservancy, a non-profit land trust in Wisconsin’s Driftless Region.
Betty loved travelling, including to Europe, Russia, New Zealand, Africa and Alaska to name a few. She has even dared solo voyages to the Galápagos Islands, the Australian outback and Nepal. Always independent, Betty accepted the challenge of the Outward Bound program in the Boundary Waters of northern Minnesota and Canada.
Her parents introduced Betty to a lifelong love of horseback riding, a sport that all three of their children pursue. Betty and her family owned and exhibited world champion and national champion competitive American Saddlebred Horses for many years. She has also owned several breeds of sporting dogs over the years and particularly enjoyed exploring Goose Island Park with them.
Betty was an active swimmer and has never found a pool she didn’t like. She also enjoyed playing tennis and was always happy to see Roger Federer, her favorite tennis player. For many years, Betty maintained a winter residence in Bonita Springs, Florida.
Almost everyone who dealt with Betty respected and admired her. She was a pioneer as a single working mother at a time when that was uncommon. And of course, Betty was always impeccably dressed, no matter the activity.
Betty has been a generous benefactor to the Mayo Clinic and Mayo Hospital, the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse Foundation, the Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater La Crosse, the United Fund for the Arts and Humanities, Northland College, Antioch College and the Viterbo University. among other.
Betty was baptized, confirmed and a member of the First Congregational Church in La Crosse, Wisconsin in 1959.
Betty Heuslein preceded her husband Adam Heuslein in death; her parents, George and Helen Frize; and her brother Robert Frize.
Those who survived include their three children: Stephen (Susan) Heuslein of La Crescent, Minnesota, Amy Heuslein (James Scott) of La Crosse, and William Heuslein of New York, New York; sister-in-law Ruth Frize of La Crosse; as well as her nephew Mark Frize; nieces: Chris Frize Davis and Lynn Frize and their families; along with stepchildren and their families.
Betty’s family is very grateful for the care she receives from the SpringBrook Community of Onalaska, as well as Mayo Clinic, Mayo Hospital, Recover Health and Mayo Hospice.
In lieu of flowers, please consider these organizations if you would like to donate in her honor: Coulee Region Humane Society, Mississippi Valley Conservancy, the West Salem Historical Society, the American Saddlebred Museum, or a charity of your choice.
A memorial service for Betty F. Heuslein will be held on Friday, May 6, 2022 at 11:30 a.m. at First Congregational Church, Losey Boulevard and Main Street in La Crosse, Wisconsin. The visit takes place this morning from 10:00 to 11:30 in the church. A private funeral will be held at Mormon Coulee Memorial Park. Schumacher-Kish Funeral Homes in La Crosse, Wisconsin supports the family. You can send condolences online at www.schumacher-kish.com.