“Her spirit and mind was one of the best pioneer women that ever lived.”
Cannon Beach lost a legend. Jean “Betty” Elizabeth Jermann – Dueber – Smith was an adamant supporter of securing the future of Cannon Beach. She shaped the landscape of the town and creatively fought for the prosperity of not only her own businesses, but of her neighbors as well.
She was a member of the PTA, City Council, Planning Commission, small business owner, and even ran for Mayor of Cannon Beach (losing only by a small margin). She helped decide the fate of Maurie Clark’s purchase of the Skating Rink, which eventually became the ‘Coaster Theatre.’ She was a cast member of numerous Christmas plays, a memorable character of the ‘Bill Steidel Players, and she was one of the earliest sponsors of the Cannon Beach Children’s Center.
Betty grew up in the small, paper-mill town of Camas, Wash. With a letter of ‘high’ recommendation from her aunt (also her school principal), she was admitted to Marylhurst College for Women in the fall of 1940. There she led the band as a majorette, was elected student body president and became acting president of Oregon Federation of Collegiate Leaders.
In 1944, she met Henry Paul Dueber on the steps of Flavia Hall at a “Tea Dance.” She cut her college career cut short by 21 credits when they wed. Shortly after the wedding, Paul was sent overseas as a member of the Air Force in World War II.
Move to Cannon Beach
Upon Paul’s safe return, the family moved from Portland to their summer home in Cannon Beach which at the time had a population of 531.
“When we had to leave Cannon Beach to go back to Portland for school at the end of August, our parents had to literally pry our fingers off the fence post to get us back into the car,” Betty’s second son, Peter, said. “That got to just be such a battle that they decided to stay. That’s my recollection of why they eventually decided to move.”
Paul and Betty purchased the tiny Variety Store in the same building as the Cannon Beach Post Office.
“Cannon Beach was a different place during that time,” Peter said. “Cannon Beach was really nothing. Most people came down with their families if they had a place to live. They’d spend time at the beach or in their cabins. No one really drove downtown.”
As a store owner, Betty was faced with the challenge of drawing people to the local storefronts.
So, the family got creative.
The Headless Horseman character (played by an unnamed Dueber child) rode the streets of Cannon Beach on a black stallion.
“Scared the living daylights of people who didn’t know what was going on,” Peter said. “We were always looking for something funny or unique to make the paper come down from Portland. The Sandcastle Contest. The Haystack Program. Portland State Summer Stock. These were just a few of the things that the townsfolk thought up to make Cannon Beach different - usually at the Round Table, in the morning, but not before that first cup of coffee.” The people in Cannon Beach were really creative people.”
After two years in business, Dueber Variety store quadrupled in size and moved to the M &M building on the corner of 2nd and Hemlock.
“She was able to see a shopping space and see the creativity they were after,” Peter said. “If one of us [kids] had a particular interest in something, she would work it out so we had a section in the store”
Cannon Beach business leader
Sadly, Henry Paul died on Christmas Day 1967, leaving Betty to care for their nine children as well as the Dueber Variety Store.
She began modestly by leasing space in a building owned by Maurie Clark and moved Dueber’s Variety to Sandpiper Square.
“Every step of Cannon Beach has been because of the people who lived there,” Peter said. She was instrumental in keeping franchises out of the town, and encouraging people to create their own unique businesses.
With the help of her children, Betty continued to increase her retail expanses in Cannon Beach, Seaside, Astoria, and later Winthrop, Wash.
“My mom saw the opportunity by looking at other people,” Peter said. “She was able to communicate to people and was very, very interested in other peoples’ visions.”
In 1972, Betty and D. K. Smith were married. They briefly moved to Winthrop before moving back to Oregon where they lived in Parkdale and Hood River.
At the age of 70, after a 50-year deferment, Betty returned to Marylhurst College. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in humanities and was listed in the 1991-1992 edition of “Who’s Who - Students in American Universities and Colleges.”
Betty passed away at the age of 96 in Hood River. She is survived by her sister Mary Claire Shivers; her four sons, Henry Paul Jr., Peter Scott, Matthew Leo and Andrew Charles; her five daughters, Elizabeth Ann, Mary Ann, Margaret Ann, Julie Ann and Nancy Ann; D.K.’s children, Sherry, Mark and Lisa; and 26 grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren.
Interment was Wednesday, April 3 at Camas Cemetery. Straub’s Funeral Home in Camas was in charge of the arrangements.
Contributions in her memory can be made to the Cannon Beach Academy P.O. Box 1171, Cannon Beach, Or. 97110.
A ‘Celebration of Life’ will be held at the Oyala home, on Saturday July 13th, from 5 – 7:30p.m. with possible bond-fire following.