Betty Kovar

Betty Kovar
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Elizabeth F. “Betty” Kovar, nee Kemna, 85, of Smithton, IL, born June 10, 1930, in West Bend, IA, died Thursday, July 16, 2015, at St. Anthony’s Medical Center, St. Louis, MO.

Betty was the daughter of a farmer and grew up on the family farm in Plymouth, Iowa.  She graduated from Plymouth High School in 1948 and attended Hamilton Business School in Mason City, Iowa.  She started her career in September of 1948 at United Home Bank in Mason City, Iowa, as a secretary and then as a teller.

In 1957, Betty moved to California and worked as a cost clerk for Rundles Neon Sign Co. in San Jose.  She married Ralph T. Kovar and began her family.  Due to the nature of her husband’s job, the family moved around the United States over the next 13 years.  Betty was always active in her community and parish, and she often chaired clubs and events. She especially loved bowling, golfing, reading, gardening, and crafts.  She made friends all over the United States.

In 1970, she moved back to Mason City, Iowa, where she worked at American State Bank as a loan teller.  In 1974, Betty became the first woman loan officer in the northern Iowa area.  This was an exceptional honor, recognizing her work ethic and moral compass.  American State Bank was purchased by Hawkeye Bank and Trust, and in 1979 she became the assistance vice-president for Hawkeye Bank and Trust.

Betty retired from Hawkeye Bank and Trust in 1983 and worked for Younkers Department Store for a few months as a sales clerk.  In 1984, she began work for Hogan-Bremer Funeral home in Mason City as a receptionist and accountant.  She retired again in 1991 and later moved to Smithton, IL, to be closer to her daughter and grandson.

She belonged to St. John the Baptist Catholic Church in Smithton and was instrumental in organizing the Prayer Chain that continues at the parish.   She was also a member of the Smithton Senior Citizens Club.

Betty was preceded in death by her parents, Frank and Christine, nee Arens, Kemna; and a brother, Clemens “Bud” Kemna.

Surviving are her daughter, Carol J. Miller of Smithton, IL;
her son, Jack Kovar of Toddville, IA;
two grandsons she adored, Corporal Anthony Miller and Christopher Kovar;
a sister, Mildred “Millie” (Edward) Conway of  St. Cloud, MN;
a sister-in-law, Arla “Jean“ Kemna of Mason City, IA;
special friends, Mark and Nancy Kovar (Nina and Jessica) of St. Peters, MO;
and many nieces, nephews, and cousins.

Memorials may be made to the St. John the Baptist Catholic Church general fund or to the USO.  Condolences may be expressed to the family online at

Visitation:  Friends may call from 4 to 8 p.m. Monday, August 31, 2015, at George Renner & Sons Funeral Home, Smithton, IL. A recitation of the rosary will be held at 4 p.m. Monday at the funeral home.

Funeral:  A Mass of Christian Burial will be held at 10 a.m. Tuesday, September 1, 2015, at St. John the Baptist Catholic Church, Smithton, IL, with Father Stanley Konieczny officiating.  Burial of cremains will be held on Saturday, September 5, 2015, at Sacred Heart Cemetery, Manley, IA.

Condolences Left For Betty Kovar

Carol and Jack-sorry to hear of your mother’s passing. I worked with her at American State and Hawkeyes Bank &Trust, she was a wonderful person,friend and mentor. My thought and prayers are with you all.

robin bratvold, mason city, ia, 50401

Carol, I’m so sorry to hear about your Mom. You and your family have my deepest sympathy. When we were growing up, your Mom always made me feel welcome in your home. Sending hugs. Ann

Ann Kloempken, Chanhassen, MN,

Carol, Jack and family:
Please accept our sincere sympathy on Betty’s passing. We will be forever grateful for her steadfast loyalty, exceptional business sense, and strong faith.
She always conducted herself with such grace and made all of us better. She has earned a very deserving rest.

Dave Moore & Staff, Hogan-Bremer-Moore , Mason City, Iowa, 50401

Carol and Jack,
Rich and I were very sorry to here about your mom. I always liked seeing her when we were all still in Mason City and again four years ago in Illinois. She was a special lady.

Diane (Dombrowski) Strelow, Golden Valley, Minnesota, 55427

Carol and Family, So sorry to hear about your mom giving hugs to you and again you and your family have my Deepest Sympathy!

Debbie Hunter, Smithton, Illinois, 62285

My fondest memories of Mrs. Kovar are from when I started college – learning about managing money. As a banker, she was very patient with me, was always very kind, and encouraging. She taught me much more about life than just balancing a check book. My condolences to the family. I hope your memories of her are at least as fond as mine.

John Sjolinder, Mason City, Iowa, 50401


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