Elizabeth (Betty) Pretzer Rall

April 10, 1922 ~ January 27, 2024 (age 101) 101 Years Old

Elizabeth (Betty) Rall Obituary

Elizabeth (Betty) Pretzer Rall, an enthusiastic geologist and beloved mother, passed away on January 27, 2024, at the age of 101. She was born on April 10, 1922, in Cleveland, Ohio, to Clarence and Hannah Pretzer.  She married Raymond (Ray) Wallace Rall in 1949, and was a devoted mother to Mary, Robert, Lucy, and Virginia. She is survived by her children, five grandchildren and six great grandchildren. Her husband (who died in 2005), and two younger siblings, Irene, and Andrew, preceded her.  She will be deeply missed by her family, and a large community that benefited from her wisdom and warmth.

Betty's life took her from Cleveland, Rhode Island, Illinois, West Texas, Alberta, Houston, and ultimately to the mountains of Colorado.  She attended Pembroke College, the women’s wing of Brown University, where her initial interest in biology quickly changed to geology.  After receiving a MSc from Columbia in New York City, she got a job with the Illinois Geological survey and taught geology at the University of Illinois to the G.I.s returning from World War Two.  She fell in love with one of those student G.I.s, and she married Ray in 1949.  Their first child, Mary, was born while Betty was working on her PhD at the University of Illinois.  Ray got a job in Midland, Texas, and so they moved to the West Texas desert in 1951. Betty’s PhD, published in 1958 in the American Association of Petroleum Geologist’s Journal, was at the forefront of describing how marine sediments fill basins.  Somehow, she managed to do some geological teaching and consulting while raising four small children. 

In 1967 Ray was transferred to Calgary, Alberta so they headed off to the frozen north.  As the children slowly grew up, Betty returned to teaching geology at a Junior college and taking work in the petroleum industry.  The whole family adored Calgary - hiking, camping, fishing and skiing. Betty and Ray called it their seven lucky years.   Ray was transferred to Houston in 1975.  As time went on, the children moved away, first to university and then on to their own lives.  By the time they got to Houston, only Virginia was still at home.  Betty worked full time in industry and thoroughly enjoyed her second life in geology.  She was an active participant in the community at the Unitarian Church.

The final big move was to Colorado in 1983.  Betty and Ray loved the mountains and the active lifestyle.  They bought and remodelled a large house on a couple of acres in Littleton, Colorado.  It became their dream retirement home for 25 years – enticing their scattered children to come for frequent visits. It was the ideal place to entertain family and friends, and it had a big study where Betty could put her drafting table to diligently continue her geology. 

In her later years, she continued her geologic endeavours, contributing to volunteer projects and publications.  Betty was a passionate advocate, educator, and long-time board member (including president from 1997-1999) of the Friends of Dinosaur Ridge.  She was instrumental in starting a science day camp at Dinosaur Ridge and continued as a docent well into her 90’s. She moved into the Holly Creek retirement community in 2013 where she continued to love visits with family and friends and as an avid lover of the outdoors – she was always interested in a hike, a ski, or a walk. She was diagnosed with Parkinson's in her 80s, but this barely slowed her down. Betty leaves behind a cherished family, a wealth of geological accomplishments, and a legacy of strength, kindness, and adventure.  She is the model for a well-lived century!

A memorial honoring her remarkable life will be held Saturday, March 16, 2024 from 2:00 – 4:00, at the Holly Creek Retirement Community, 5500 E Peakview Ave, Centennial, CO 80121.  Please join us.

Donations are welcome to The Betty Rall Camp Fund at Dinosaur Ridge at


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