Betty F. Heuslein, 95, passed away peacefully with her family by her side on Wednesday, Feb. 9, 2022, at SpringBrook Community of Onalaska. Born Elizabeth June Frise on May 8, 1926, in Pontiac, Illinois, to her parents, George P. Frise and Helen Todd Frise, Betty grew up in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, and graduated from Eau Claire High School in 1944. She then earned her bachelor’s degree in business from Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio.
While in college, Betty participated in Antioch’s innovative work study program, working in Chicago as a buyer at the department store Carson Pirie Scott and also at Time-Life in New York City. At Antioch College, Betty Frise met her future husband, Adam Heuslein, who earned his bachelor’s degree in engineering. Adam was a WWII Veteran with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers who served in the Battle of the Bulge. They married on September 1, 1951, at the Presbyterian Cargill House in La Crosse.
After living the first several years of their marriage in Connecticut, they settled in La Crosse. The Heusleins were one of original families to reside in Wedgewood Valley in the Town of Shelby in La Crosse County.
Betty and her brother, Robert “Bob” Frise, were the principal owners when the operations of the La Crosse Concrete Company were later acquired by 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, the La Crosse Truck Center (Mack Trucks and Ford Trucks).
Betty was a long-serving trustee, and later trustee emeritus, 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, longtime participant in the AAUW’s Bookfellows study group in La Crosse. Betty was an avid reader and her homes were always filled with many books. When traveling, Betty was immediately drawn to any bookstore she came across.
Betty was involved with the La Crosse Community (Children’s) Theatre and performed in such productions as “Aladdin” and “Jack and the Beanstalk.” She also greatly enjoyed attending performances at the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis. Betty was a member of the West Salem Historical Society and enjoyed conducting tours of their historic houses in West Salem, Wisconsin.
Reflecting her long-held concern for the environment, Betty was one of the individuals behind the establishment of the Mississippi Valley Conservancy, a nonprofit land trust in the Driftless Region of Wisconsin.
Betty loved traveling, including to Europe, Russia, New Zealand, Africa and Alaska, to name a few. She even ventured on solo trips to the Galápagos Islands, the Australian Outback and Nepal. Ever independent-minded, Betty took on the challenge of the Outward Bound program in the Boundary Waters of Northern Minnesota and Canada.
Her parents introduced Betty to a life-long love of horseback riding, a sport pursued by all three of her children. Betty and her family owned and exhibited in competition World Champion and National Champion American Saddlebred Horses for many years. She also owned several breeds of sporting dogs through the years and especially liked exploring Goose Island Park with them.
Betty was an active swimmer and never met a pool she didn’t like. She also enjoyed playing tennis and was always excited to watch Roger Federer, her favorite tennis player. For many years, Betty maintained a winter residence in Bonita Springs, Florida.
Nearly everyone who engaged 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 attired, no matter the activity.
Betty was a generous benefactor of 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 Viterbo University, among others.
Betty was baptized, confirmed and became a member of the First Congregational Church in La Crosse, Wisconsin, in 1959.
Betty Heuslein was preceded in death by her husband, Adam Heuslein; her parents, George and Helen Frise; and her brother, Robert Frise.
Survivors include her 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 Frise of La Crosse; as well as her nephew, Mark Frise; nieces: Chris Frise Davis and Lynn Frise and their families; along with step-grandchildren and their families.
Betty’s family is most thankful for the care given to her by SpringBrook Community of Onalaska as well as Mayo Clinic, Mayo Hospital, Recover Health and Mayo Hospice.
In lieu of flowers, please consider these organizations for those wishing to make a donation in her memory: Coulee Region Humane Society, Mississippi Valley Conservancy, the West Salem Historical Society, the American Saddlebred Museum, or a charity of one’s own choosing.
A memorial service for Betty F. Heuslein will be held Friday, May 6, 2022, at 11:30 a.m. at the First Congregational Church, Losey Boulevard and Main Street in La Crosse, Wisconsin. Visitation will take place from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. that morning at the church. A private burial will be held at Mormon Coulee Memorial Park. Schumacher-Kish Funeral Homes of La Crosse, Wisconsin, is assisting the family. Online condolences may be made at www.schumacher-kish.com.