Resident Profile – Get to Know the Rennebohms

Back in the fall of 1939, Bill and Betty Rennebohm met in a very unusual manner.  They were both sophomores at Oberlin College, and rules there required that male students help seat female students in the Dining Hall for the evening meal. Bill pulled out Betty’s chair to seat her, but when Betty started to sit down, Bill somehow forgot to move her chair in and Betty fell to the floor. Luckily, she started laughing. Bill started laughing, too – Betty was clearly a girl he should get to know!

They were married a few years later in January 1943. Bill was in the Navy and Betty was teaching music in Tacoma. Because he was stationed in the Solomon Islands, the first time Bill saw their oldest son Craig he was already nine months old. After the war, the Rennebohms had three more children: twins Rob and Kristi and a fourth child, Laurie.

Bill enjoyed a varied career, first working with the Yakima Chamber of Commerce as Assistant Manager, followed by a decade with the Rennebohm Drugstores (a family business) in Madison, Wisconsin. While in Madison, he obtained his Master’s degree in Urban Planning at the University of Wisconsin.

Bill wanted to work in land use and went to the Department of Interior in Washington, D.C. in the mid-1960s where he worked until retiring in 1980. In that capacity, Bill engaged federal, state and local agencies in promoting outdoor recreation and coordinated the acquisition of lands for scenic, historic, and recreational trails. During his tenure, Bill’s agency helped create two Seattle gems, namely the Burke Gilman Trail and Freeway Park.

During these years, besides helping to raise their growing family, Betty taught piano to untold numbers of students and played the organ for the churches they attended wherever they lived. While in Washington, D.C., she had memorable volunteer experiences with the Robert E. Lee Memorial as a docent and also volunteered at the National Institute of Health and visited patients struggling with cancer.

Following their retirement, Bill and Betty lived in Cheney, Washington, for many years before coming to Horizon House in 2003. They have been active on many committees here and recently celebrated their 73rd wedding anniversary! They are very proud of their four children, 10 grandchildren, and 11 great grandchildren.

Over the years, the Rennebohms have been very generous in their support of Partners in Caring, the annual campaign of Horizon House. When asked what motivated them in their giving, they said “We grew up in the Depression years and we remember how friends and neighbors took care of each other. We are just trying to live up to that here at Horizon House.”

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