TOPEKA — Representative Bob G. Bethell was honored posthumously for the Heather Award, presented during the Governor’s Conference for the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect by TFI Family Services Inc.
The award honors the memory of Heather Coulter, a TFI family support worker who was killed by a drunk driver in September, 2002.
The Heather Award embodies the spirit of those who enrich the lives of the children and families of Kansas.
Rep. Bethell died at the age of 69 in an automobile accident near Topeka on May 20, 2012, while returning home after adjournment of the Kansas House of Representatives legislative session.
His wife, Lorene Bethell, was presented the award by Steven Solomon, director of public policy for TFI, and Richard and Mary Ruth Coulter, Heather’s parents, during the Governor’s conference awards luncheon.
Bethell was a State Representative for the 113th District from 1999 until his death, serving Rice County and parts of Reno and Barton counties. Bethell served as the mayor of Alden from 1994 to 1998. He worked as a long-term care administrator, pastor, high school vice principal, middle school principal and college director of admissions.
“I feel honored when his name is remembered,” Lorene Bethell said. “There is no way I knew the enormity of the lives my husband touched.”
Family members such as Lorene’s sister, Carolyn Spradlin, knew Rep. Bethell simply as “Bob.”
Bethell was known by many as a kind, gentle, God-fearing man who truly cared about human suffering. He was a passionate legislator that advocated common-sense solutions for education, health, elderly care and the needs of those whose voices were not often heard. Bethell was deeply interested in how legislative policies affected people.
“We miss him doing the good work for the people in Kansas,” Lorene said. “We’re always happy when the ideas he felt strongly about it are promoted. We sure wish we had him around to debate some of the issues we’re facing.”
Both the Coulters and Lorene expressed their gratitude at the remembrance of both Heather and Rep. Bethell’s legacy that they hope others will follow.
“Representative Bob Bethell was a man of deep faith and passion for his family and state,” said Kansas Governor Sam Brownback in an interview with WIBW-TV Topeka. “The community of Alden, and the entire state of Kansas lost a passionate and motivated public servant.
“He poured himself into issues and causes important to Kansas and was a voice for our state’s most vulnerable citizens. Those who knew Bob will remember him as warm and affectionate. His family, friends and state always mattered more to him than anything else. He will be missed in the State Capitol, in Alden, and in our hearts.”
TFI Family Services, Inc. is a statewide 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization devoted to the strength of family that provides experience, compassion, quality child welfare and community-based services to children and families in Kansas. To learn more, please visit www.tfifamilyservices.org.
TFI is licensed by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment as a Child Placing Agency, License No. 766 and is also accredited by Council on Accreditation of Services for Families and Children, Inc.