After graduation from the University of Dubuque in 1943, Beth taught school in Waterloo, IA. One day a fellow teacher asked, "How'd you like to go to Hawaii?" Her response was, "I'd pack and go tonight."
The conversation was relayed to Leonard Calvert, Principal of the Kamehameha School for Boys, who once taught in Waterloo and was visiting to recruit teachers. They met for breakfast and a week later Beth was offered a job. It was to teach business education at the Kamehameha School for Girls for the 1949 school year.
Upon arrival she was surprised to see seven or eight people including KSG Principal Pauline Fredrick, there to greet her with a lei. She never left, except to travel the world every other year during summer breaks. In her possession were passports with countless stamps from England, Holland, Netherlands, Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Germany, Belgium, Switzerland, France, Italy, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Burma, Hong Kong, Thailand, India, Istanbul, Japan, Korea, Vietnam, New Zealand, Fiji, and Australia.
At KSG Beth taught business subjects for several years. At some point Dorothy Martin, then principal and Head of the English Department asked Beth, "Wouldn't you rather teach English?" "I think I would," replied Beth and made the switch. She would never regret her choice.
Beth's favorite subject was Literature, such as Chaucer and Shakespeare. "For me I can teach Hamlet twenty times and still find it interesting. So much agitation for multi-cultural inclusion these days, but so much of it is a social thing." When asked to identify her accomplishments at Kamehameha that made her most proud, Beth replied, "The thing that makes me feel good is when former students come back to me from college and say, 'You helped me a lot. I have an easier time because I learned so much from you.'" After her retirement in 1999, she was asked to work a little longer and didn't fully leave teaching until 2000.
Beth over the years spent time working with the Friends of the Library, the Bishop Museum, and the Botanical Gardens. So much so that in both Houses of the Hawaiian State Legislature she was recognized as the 2015 State of Hawaii volunteer of the year.
Elizabeth was preceded in death by her sister Marjean Erner and her 3 brothers Norman, Thomas, and Warren Powers. She never married or had children of her own, but always believed she helped raise thousands of Hawaii's children. They were her kids.
Beth was loved by many and will surely be missed. Rest in peace Beth, you did well.
A memorial will be held on the campus of Kamehameha Schools, Smith Building parking lot, October 29th at 4:00 PM. In lieu of flowers, donations should be made in her name to either the Friends of the Library or the Ke Ali'i Pauahi Foundation.
Arrangements Provided By:Oahu Mortuary