Betty Bishop is pictured at Southern State Community College. (Kris Cross/HCP file photo)
Betty Bishop is pictured at Southern State Community College. (Kris Cross/HCP file photo)
NOTE: This is Part 1 of a series leading up to the Highland County Historical Society inducting five more into its Hall of Fame. This week, we profile Betty Lavonne Bishop.

Ladies and gentlemen, Betty Bishop was the first woman to be mayor of Hillsboro (from 1980-95) and the first woman be to city manager of Greenfield (from 2009-12). She served as community development director of Greenfield from 1997-2000; coordinator/executive director of Turning Point Applied Learning Center from 2001-04; and organized and led an economic development trip to Japan and Hong Kong, leading to Weastec coming to Hillsboro.

Over the years, however, Betty Bishop has meant so much more to the Highland County community than her impressive résumé.

Former State Rep. Cliff Rosenberger, who represented Highland County in the Ohio House of Representatives, read his final proclamation in the 129th General Assembly, written in Betty's honor.

“If there was a Hall of Fame for public officials in Highland County, Betty would be the first person inducted,” Rosenberger said. “There is no harder worker or better advocate for the city of Greenfield. To Betty, it’s not about numbers, it’s about putting food on people’s plates; it’s about educating children; and it’s about finding jobs for the people."

Six years after her retirement, Betty continued to offer her advice – on occasion – to active public servants. In an October 2018 letter to The Highland County Press, Betty wrote about her community:

"In the good years of financial progress, we built colleges, schools, industries, city buildings, fire houses, the county annex, a new jail, improved city streets and alleys and purchased new equipment as needed like ladder trucks, squads, cruisers and many other infrastructure improvements as the needs arose, including the houses and neighborhoods of many of our citizens. We were 'over-comers.' We also saw a time when our people did not have the proper equipment to work with, with fenders falling off trucks. We overcame adversity. We will do it again. Let us do it with our own people. Let us find a spirit of cooperation."

Highland County Press publisher and owner Rory Ryan wrote about Betty Bishop, “That ‘spirit of cooperation’ was the epitome of Betty Bishop's years as a true public servant for Highland County. Whether it was coaching Little League baseball or representing Highland County as the honorary captain at a Cincinnati Reds baseball game in 2014 at ‘Highland County Day’ at Great American Ball Park, Betty has always been there for the citizens of Highland County.”

Former Greenfield City Manager Ron Coffey called Betty Bishop “totally selfless,” and “has shown outstanding leadership and helped bring faith, prosperity and hope to our citizens.”

As mentioned, Bishop coached boys Little League baseball for 15 years and also organized and implemented girls Little League softball in Hillsboro as well as arranged and coordinated for a ball field to be built for the girls’ teams.

Bishop successfully organized four campaigns and was elected to four terms as mayor. She is past president of the Ohio Mayors Association and served on the Board of Directors of the Ohio Municipal League. She also served on many boards and commissions in and around Highland County. Bishop retired as a school bus driver for Hillsboro City Schools.

Married to Leslie Bishop for 55 years, she is the mother of seven and a faithful member of the Hillsboro Church of the Nazarene.

In addition to Betty Bishop, the 2022 Highland County Historical Society Hall of Fame inductees are John Glaze, Arts and Entertainment; the late Donnie Eugene Lytle (“Johnny Paycheck”), Arts and Entertainment; Beverly D. Rhoads, Leadership; and the late McKinley Hobart “Mack” Sauer, Arts and Entertainment.

The five recipients will be honored at an induction ceremony Sunday, Aug. 21 at 2 p.m. at the Presbyterian Church in Hillsboro, followed by a reception at Highland House directly across the street from the church. The public is cordially invited.

For more information on the Highland County Historical Society, please call (937) 393-3392 or email the society at [email protected]

Steve Roush is vice chairman of the Highland County Historical Society Board of Trustees, a vice president of an international media company and a columnist and contributing writer for The Highland County Press. He can be reached by email at [email protected]