By Janie Southard
NEW KNOXVILLE -- Betty Henschen will accept the title of Auglaize County Senior Citizen of 2004 at the Auglaize County Council on Aging on Tuesday, and she's "thrilled and honored."
"This is really my year, isn't it," said the St. Marys native who now lives outside New Knoxville in a cozy bungalow on the farm where she and her late husband began housekeeping several decades ago.
Henschen, a statuesque 77-year-old, is referring not only to the Auglaize County honor but also to the opportunity to walk down the red carpet a few weeks ago at the award ceremony for The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences 76th Annual Awards (aka, the Oscars). Her escorts? Two former grown-up students in one of the Sunday school classes Henschen has taught for the past 50 years.
"Randy works for the motion picture academy and he got two extra tickets. He gave one to Bruce, who is an artist on the East Coast. They've been friends since the days of growing up in New Knoxville," Henschen told The Daily Standard last week. Haberkamp had his mother in mind for the third ticket, but she couldn't go, so the two friends chose Henschen as the perfect stand-in.
"Well, of course, there were problems with the flights out to California. We were late into Chicago and I missed my connection. So I was scurrying around to get in touch with Randy who was picking me up at the airport. "But if nothing goes wrong, you really don't have much to talk about," Henschen said philosophically.
Everything went right once the plane touched down in Los Angeles, and Henschen got settled into the Roosevelt Hotel, located near enough to the Oscar venue to merit an army of security people including sharpshooters installed on all surrounding rooftops.
She saw workers setting up the red carpet area with its huge banks of flowers and the next day she, Haberkamp and Elsass joined the glitteratti making their way into the Kodak Theater.
Back home, Henschen got busy again with her many volunteer duties at Joint Township District Memorial Hospital, the New Knoxville Historical Society, the Community League of Women, the Senior Supper Hour and her family.
She is also an active member of the New Knoxville United Church of Christ, where she sings in the choir, serves as a church elder and teaches Sunday school. She has written and directed several plays for various church groups.
A few years ago, for a local publication, Henschen summed up her outlook on life: "There are choices. It's up to you to make it interesting or dull, and your life can be so much more interesting if you seek out other people ... I have a great variety of friends and enjoy them all."