Remembering Betty Halpern, director of Berkwood School, early childhood educator

On Oct. 30, our amazing mother Betty Halpern died in Bodega.

She had been taken care of by her son Jackie for 16 years. She was 95 and died peacefully at home. Betty was born Brana in 1924 in Romania, where the Danube and the Black Sea meet. When Betty was 5, she and her parents, Pearl and Dave Weinstein, and her younger sister, the late Tanya Bove, fled on a ship to New York at the height of the Depression. From Brooklyn, she moved to Berkeley in 1945 and enrolled in U.C. Berkeley where she met her husband Raymond.

In 1952 Betty took over the directorship of Berkwood School. She is remembered as a thoughtful educator who directed the first integrated private school in Alameda County.

The school still continues, now called Berkwood Hedge School.

In 1968, she was hired by Sonoma State College, now University, to head up its Early Childhood Education Department. The state used this as a model for their multiple subject credential with an emphasis in early childhood education.

She retired from Sonoma State in 1994. In retirement, Betty swam and played tennis daily, worked with homeless advocacy groups, volunteered in her daughter’s classroom and helped organize the Berkeley Arts Festival. She also acted in George Coates’ long-running production, “Better Bad News”

Betty is survived by her son Jackie, her daughter Tova and son-in-law Nels Bruseth, her brother Neil Weinstein, brother-in-law Leonard, her nephews Howard and Richard Bove of San Jose and her grandchildren, Elijah, Kaya and Ma’ayan.

The family wishes to invite friends and relatives to Betty’s Celebration of Life on Saturday, Feb. 29 from 2-5 p.m. at the Berkeley Fellowship of Unitarian Universalists Fellowship Hall in Berkeley, 1924 Cedar St.

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