Thursday, March 23, 2023

Courageous, Resilient, Determined Women of Oro Valley and Beyond

Betty was born in El Paso, Texas to John (Jack) and Elizabeth Procter. The family moved to Eastland, Texas and then Pasadena, California. In 1932 Jack took a job as the manager of the prestigious Pioneer Hotel and the family relocated to Tucson.

Betty attended the University of Arizona and was a Kappa Kappa Gamma. She was quite a beauty and was crowned the Queen of the Harvest Festival Dance in 1938. While attending the university, Betty often modeled for the elegant Cele Peterson clothing shop in Tucson. Betty lit up the Tucson social scene on many occasions including the Baile de los Flores Charity Ball (the event’s proceeds were dedicated to St. Luke’s in the Desert).

Due to her father’s position at the Pioneer Hotel, Betty worked in the gift shop. Her expertise was Native American pottery and jewelry. She also featured art work from the DeGrazia Gallery. She worked at the Pioneer while in college through marriage and motherhood.

Betty and Henry E. “Hank” Leiber met in Arizona during the frequent visits Hank made to the area. Hank was a notable University of Arizona athlete and a professional baseball player for the Chicago Cubs and New York Giants between 1933 and 1942. Betty was a competitive golfer and held several amateur titles.

The couple was engaged on November 18, 1940 during Hank’s career with the Chicago Cubs. On their way back from the Rose Bowl in 1940, Hank and Betty stopped in Yuma and got married. They followed up their elopement with a reception at the Steam Pump Ranch property.

Hank’s career in baseball ended in 1942 after a head injury. The couple then made their full time residence in Tucson. They moved into the Pusch House at Steam Pump Ranch for a time. (Note: The Pusch Family, original owners of the Pusch House used the house only on an occasional basis . Their primary home was in Tucson.) With baseball behind him, Hank became a successful real estate developer in the Tucson area. In 1963 Betty and Hank moved into the 49er Golf Club development.

On February 17, 1978 Betty passed away in Tucson at the age of 59 from an aneurism. She is buried at East Lawn Palms Cemetery and Mortuary.

*Cheryl Leiber, Betty’s daughter-in-law (wife of John Leiber), has graciously provided us with an oral history of the Leiber family’s time at Steam Pump Ranch. She is a volunteer docent of the Oro Valley Historical Society.

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The Oro Valley Historical Society is celebrating Women’s History Month with an exhibit featuring “Courageous, Resilient, Determined Women of Oro Valley and Beyond. You can discover the lives of other prominent women of our area including, Ina Gittings and The Countess of Suffolk. The Pusch House Museum at Steam Pump Ranch is open on Saturdays from 9 to Noon, March 11, 18, and 25. (10901 N. Oracle Rd, Oro Valley)