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Betty B's Beads

At 91, necklace-loving West Linn woman is beginning to see her work displayed in local accessory shops

TIDINGS PHOTO: CLIFF NEWELL - Betty Breitbarth has an amazing display of necklaces on a table in her own home in West Linn. Now she wants to put her necklaces in womans apparel stores.Betty Breitbarth is a “little pistol.”

That’s what her friend, Susan Warren, calls the 91-year-old West Linn woman, who recently greeted visitors to her home wearing a big smile and a splendid gold-colored, embroidered jacket.

“Betty is so amazing,” says Warren, who still remembers the first time the two women met.

“Betty told me, ‘I can make you anything you want,’” Warren recalls. “She said, ‘Honey, you should come to my house. It could blow your mind.’”

Indeed it could. Because everywhere you look in Breitbarth’s home are beads. Beads, beads and more beads. Boxes of beads everywhere. Look in her closets and you’ll find boxes of beads stacked high.

And on her tables are dozens, maybe hundreds, of necklaces — necklaces of every possible type, all with different pendants.

For Breitbarth, making necklaces is not a hobby. It’s an industry, and she seems to have enough necklaces to stock a few Walmarts.

“I had to have something to do,” Breitbarth saiys “I couldn’t just watch TV. Looking for something to do, it really caught my eye. I can just sit and do it. I love the beads.”

But Breitbarth does set a few restrictions for herself.

“Hippie beads?” she says. “No way.”

Bead love came along late in Breitbarth’s life. “I’ve had a simple life,” she says. “Very dull.”

But it was also full of happiness, love and accomplishment. She had one of those storied World War II romances, married her husband Jack, raised four children and lived in a very big house in the Dunthorpe area. Their resemblance to Ozzie and Harriet was strong. However, Jack passed away 25 years ago, and six years ago, Breitbarth moved to a smaller house in West Linn.

Now, she has Bead Ambition. Instead of just letting her house overflow with beads, she is going into business — with plenty of encouragement from Warren, of course, who thinks Breitbarth’s necklaces should be shared with the world.

Warren would certainly love to see Breitbarth’s work sold in women’s accessory stores in West Linn and Lake Oswego, and the women are off to a good start. Carol Winston has agreed to take 20 of Betty’s necklaces for her Accessories from the Heart shop on A Avenue.

Breitbarth, meanwhile, will keep making necklaces.

And smiling her big smile.

Contact Cliff Newell at 503-636-1281 ext. 105 or cnewell@lakeoswegoreview.com.


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