Retired sociology professor, women’s activist dies

Former Kent State educator, union member and activist Betty Kirschner passed away Thursday.

Kirschner was an associate professor of sociology who began working at the Trumbull campus in September 1969. In addition to her involvement in the Sociologists for Women in Society and the American Association of University Professors, Kirschner helped with the proposal that brought about the Women’s Resource Center.

She retired from Kent State in 1995.

Anne Reid, academic program director and a friend of Kirschner’s, said she met Kirschner in 1977 during the Tent City protest, when students and faculty camped out on the football practice field to protest plans to build the gym annex near the May 4 memorial.

Reid said Kirschner was “very loyal to the May 4th families, even when she got too ill to march.”

When this happened, Reid picked Kirschner up and “drove her close enough to hear the Kaddish (Jewish prayer) being read and also the Lord’s Prayer.”

Reid said Kirschner was “an enormously clear thinker – both politically and humanly,” and that when someone needed to think through something, he or she went to her.

“(She was) fierce and feisty and funny,” Reid said.

– Dan Stroble