Blog service

Blog: Former Mayor’s Spirit of Generosity Lives On (3/19/22)

Poplar Bluff Altrusa International invites the public from 2:30 p.m. to 4 p.m. today, Saturday, March 19, to a meet and greet to learn more about its organization.

The gathering will take place in the Altrusa Room of the Twin Towers, 508 Barlett St.

Missing physically from the event, but not spiritually, will be Mary Elizabeth Absheer, better known to members of her community as Betty, and to her high school friends as Abbie. Betty passed away from this physical world on October 30, 2021, but her community spirit of giving lives on with Altrusa and the many people she inspired to give of themselves to others.

In a few months and after renovations, the Poplar Bluff Housing Authority will rename the room Betty Absheer Altrusa Room.

For those attending the meeting and subsequent dedication, don’t be surprised if you sense his presence in the room.

Betty has spent decades of her life living, working and attending church in her beloved Eastside. She also enjoyed working and growing up in downtown Poplar Bluff. In September 1989, she was nominated to represent Ward 3 on the Poplar Bluff City Council. She was elected by her friends and neighbors to represent them nine times. She became the first female mayor of Poplar Bluff and was chosen five times by her fellow council members.

She worked for the housing authority for 28 years before retiring. She gave up work for six years before taking a part-time position for Cummings Real Estate, where she spent 17 years.

When Betty retired from council, she continued to serve on various city councils.

When her sister, Bonnie Absheer Knowles, needed extra care, Betty spent her evenings visiting her sister in a long-term care facility. Even when Bonnie no longer realized she was there, Betty continued to visit her each evening, reading her the paper and sharing with her sister.

Another of his passions in life was his work with Altrusa International. A member for 45 years, Betty has served as local club president, district 8 governor and vice chair of the international board of directors. In 2020, she received the Marilyn J. Bell Humanitarian Award from District Eight of Altrusa. The award recognizes an Altrusan who has made a lasting contribution to community service through their involvement with Altrusa. Who better to receive the award.

Those attending the Altrusa event or subsequent dedication may want to pay attention. They may find themselves putting their name on a volunteer list or agreeing to get involved in a community project. Betty continues to inspire others.

Barb Horton is a staff writer at the Daily American Republic. She can be contacted at