If former Miami Edison Senior High teacher Elizabeth “Betty” Hach had gathered up all the apples given to her by her young students, she probably could have opened her own orchard.
The beloved teacher spent 25 years at Edison and another quarter century as a guidance counselor at North Miami Senior High and College Assistance Program (CAP) adviser at MAST Academy through her retirement at 80 in 2004.
“I couldn’t imagine her retired and I don’t think she would have retired at 80 but dad’s health was failing and she needed to be home with him,” her daughter Eleanor Ashton said. “She was always on boards and committees and was the president of the local Civitan Club — the first woman president — and she really liked participating.
“Just a year ago her health was failing and she couldn’t get around. I asked her, ‘If there was one thing you could do and get around what would it be?’ She said it would be ‘to go back to my meetings and church meetings — and to shop.’ She had this incredible collection of shoes. That was something she enjoyed,” her daughter said.
Hach, who lived in Miami Shores, died on July 19 at 91.
Today, memories replace apples.
“She was an exceptional person, teacher, friend and leader,” said Miami historian Arva Moore Parks. “As a new young teacher at Miami Edison, also my alma mater, Betty reached out to me to help and inspire me. It was the first year Edison was integrated and we also had a lot of non-English speaking Cuban refugees. She helped everyone — students, teacher and parent—to realize the worth of everyone.”
Hach’s daughter said her mother was inspired by her own mother, a teacher.
She loved having a positive impact on the lives of young people and helping them and seemed very dedicated.
Eleanor Ashton, on her mother, Edison teacher Betty Hach
“She just really had this passion for influencing young people,” Ashton said.
Hach, born Dec. 10, 1924, in Tampa, met her husband Bob while at the University of Tampa on a four-year scholarship. The couple settled in Miami and Hach began her teaching career at Edison in 1946. She taught American government, civics and was a guidance counselor.
Barbara Flipse Clovis, of Ocala, remembered her teacher on the Herald’s obituary guest book. “Saw Mrs. Hach 10 years ago at an Edison reunion. I didn't think she had changed a bit since I sat in her classroom 50 years ago,” she wrote. “She was an amazing influence on many aspects of my life. Never forgot how she taught all of us how to fold and read a newspaper in 12th grade government class.”
In 1979, Hach worked at North Miami Senior High. Over the next 13 years as a head counselor, Hach triumphed over a shortage of fellow counselors and trying situations like teen suicide.
“I picked up on how to recognize some of the red lights,” Hach said of teen suicides in a 1984 Miami Herald story. Communication was key, she said.
The work was rewarding, yet difficult. “This is the most frustrating job in the world. We’re constantly putting out fires,” she told a Herald reporter in another story in 1984. The writer described her delivery as such: “[a] gentle Southern lilt, the voice of a woman who has heard it all and yet retains the capacity to be shocked by the sight of sixth grade girls wearing high heels in church.”
Hach retired briefly in 1992 but less than a year later became the CAP adviser at MAST Academy and worked another 10 years until she was 80. In addition, she was president of the Downtown Miami Civitan Club, an elder and clerk of session at Miami Shores Presbyterian Church and served on the Miami Country Day School board for 20 years. She chaired the committee that set the school’s core values.
“She had a lot of energy,” her daughter said. “She just really loved having a positive impact on the lives of young people and helping them and seemed very dedicated.”
In addition to her daughter, Hach is survived by her son Robert Hach, four grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. Services were held. Donations payable to the Elizabeth Hach Scholarship Fund, which helps fund an annual college scholarship for a female student from Miami Edison, can be mailed to Rosalinda O’Neill, 23622 Calabasa Rd., Calabasas, California, 91302.