Elizabeth Mae Cutsforth Meilahn
Elizabeth Mae Cutsforth Meilahn was born May 17, 1915 in Chetek. Elizabeth, known as "Betty" to her friends, was a mainstay of the community.
Betty passed away peacefully on Sunday, May 4, 2008 at Harmony Living Center in McFarland.
The daughter of Arthur Earl and Eva Lavina (Mas-sey) Cutsforth, Betty graduated as valedictorian of the 1933 class of the Chetek High School.
She went on to attend the University of Wisconsin-River Falls and the UW-Madison School of Nursing, graduating with a bachelor of science degree in nursing in 1939.
Betty enjoyed reminiscing about her early days of nursing, commenting about the brown uniforms with white aprons, heavily starched collars with resulting sore necks, starched nursing caps, cuffs that shot up over the elbow and brown capes with turquoise silk lining.
She was a licensed registered nurse in Wisconsin, California, Illinois, Minnesota and Texas.
Betty specialized in obstetrics, community health, and later, working until age 80 as a registered nurse in McAllen, Texas, she specialized in drug and alcohol addiction and rehabilitation.
Her most memorable nursing experience was delivering a Christmas Eve baby at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Rice Lake - in an elevator stuck between floors.
She taught classes in first aid and child care, and worked many years as a volunteer in community projects, was a coordinator and mentor to the high school nursing club and worked in Red Cross blood drives.
March 27, 1938, Betty married Arnold Frederick Carl Meilahn in Marion, Ark.
Initially living near Arnold’s family in Kewaskum, the couple lived in Mayville in the 1930s to the 1940s where Arnold and his father, Herman Meilahn, ran a funeral home.
The couple then moved to and continued to live in Chetek.
For many years they managed the Yellow Lodge Resort and Hotel in Chetek, assisting Betty’s parents until the Yellow Lodge was sold in 1972.
They wintered many years in McAllen, Texas.
In 1997 Betty moved to Waunakee, near Madison, and in 2007 to Harmony Living Center in McFarland.
Betty published several books, including "Eva’s Yellow Lodge Cookbook," "Johann Meilahn-Emigrant and Ancestor," "Cutsforth Heritage in England and America" and "The Masseys of Grenadier Island."
She was active in genealogical pursuits, traveling several times to Canada, England, Scotland, and Germany for research.
In addition to researching and publishing her findings, Betty conducted university and technical college short courses in genealogy.
Betty was involved in community action. For over 20 years, she was the city health officer in Chetek, participated in the Waunakee Area Education Advisory Council and was a lifetime member and past matron of the Order of the Eastern Star, most recently a member of the Chetek and Middleton Chapters.
While in McAllen, she worked with the city government planning Texas sesquicentennial celebrations, and worked as a docent and researcher at the McAllen International Museum helping with its natural science and history displays.
Betty developed several programs for the Rio Grande Valley Old Timers group. She would quip, "Here I am, a Yankee from up north, talking with a group like that about their history."
After relocating to Waunakee, she was an active member of the First Presbyterian Church of Waunakee and a participant member of the Advisory Council for Elder Care of Wisconsin.
She was preceded in death by her husband, Arnold, and sons Daniel and John.
She is survived by sons David (Elaine) of Lynnwood, Wash., William (Suzanna) of Elon, N.C. and James (Susan) of Madison; a grandson, Carl (Amber) and great-grandchildren, William and Kaytelin of Dallas, Texas; and granddaughters, Kathleen on active duty with the United States Air Force in Tampa, Fla., Nancy of Austin, Texas and Ann of Chicago.
As a committed member of the medical community, Betty has donated her body to the Mayo Clinic Department of Anatomy, where she hopes to continue her legacy of inspiration and to help others aspiring to higher medical education.
Combined Eastern Star and memorial services will be held at the First Presbyterian Church of Waunakee, 5763 Highway Q, on Saturday, May 10, at 10 a.m.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be sent to the University of Wisconsin Foundation, School of Nursing, US Bank Lockbox, P.O. Box 78807, Milwaukee WI 53278-0807.
Please indicate the gift is in memory of Elizabeth Mae Cutsforth Meilahn, to be deposited into the UW Nurses Alumni Organization Scholarship Fund.