obit berthadeancropOne of the most respected teachers in Torrance County passed away Feb. 27. Bertha Mae (Larson) Dean was born Nov. 24, 1914, in Moorhead, Iowa to Frank and Effie (Montgomery) Larson. Bertha, her parents and brothers Voyle and Merrill settled in the Estancia Valley in 1932. Bertha began her teaching career when she was 18 years old in a one-room school house in Gran Quivera, with 30 students in grades one through eight. She also taught in East View and Pedernal. Bertha taught fourth and sixth grades in Moriarty, retiring in 1976 after 32 years in education. As a dedicated educator she served on the PTA book review and selection committee, participated on a committee for government aid for handicapped children and served as officer in the N.M. Education Association. She was honored in 1970 as one of the Outstanding Educators of America for her exceptional service and leadership in education, as Teacher of Today three times and represented Moriarty as State Teacher of the Year in 1975. Bertha received her degree in Elementary Education from the University of New Mexico in 1959. Her students remember her as always there to help and inspire them to be the best they could be. Bertha was a devoted Christian and always tried to teach good Christian values by her example to those around her. She was one of the founding members of the Moriarty Baptist Church serving in many capacities through the years. Bertha served at the state level for six years on the board of directors of the N.M. Baptist Children’s Home and six years on the N.M. Baptist Mission Board, and was honored by N.M. Boys and Girls Ranch for her many years of support. One of her favorite quotes was, “I have seen yesterday, I love today and I am not afraid of tomorrow.” She enjoyed playing the piano, her flower and vegetable gardens, oil painting, needlepoint and many crafts. Bertha and her husband Bruce traveled in their RV to 35 states. In 2003 she took a cruise to Alaska with her daughter Peggy. Her family has many wonderful memories of her “Grandma cookies,” waiting for her Christmas boxes filled with their favorite holiday cookies and candies and special times on the Dean ranch. She will be greatly missed by her family and her many friends. She is survived by her son, Dr. Allen Dean and wife Cheryl of Albuquerque; daughters Peggy Dean and Judy Spangler and husband Randall of Dallas, Texas; grandchildren Jimmy Thompson, Debbie and Kevin Dean, Larry and Jack Saiz, Rhonda Orr, Brett and Scott Spangler; eight great-grandchildren and 10 great-great-grandchildren; sister- in- law Zelda Dean, and many nieces and nephews. She was preceded in death by her husband of 62 years, Bruce, and by her brothers Voyle and Merrill Larson, sisters-in-law Lois and Frances Larson, Ellis (Dean) Neel, brothers-in-law Crile Dean and Bud Neel, and granddaughter Lisa Spangler. The family would like to thank Montebello Skilled Nursing for their kindness and care these last years. Also to Ambercare for their support to Bertha and her family these last weeks. In lieu of flowers you may make donations in her memory to The Ranches, 6209 Hendrix Rd, NE, Albuquerque, NM 87110 or NM Baptist Children’s Home, P.O. Box 629, Portales, NM 88130. A visitation will be held March 6 from 3 to 5 p.m. at Harris-Hanlon Mortuary in Moriarty. The funeral service will be March 7 at 10 a.m. at the First Baptist Church in Moriarty, with Pastor Dennis Garcia to officiate. Burial will be at Mountain View Cemetery in Moriarty.