Betty Jean Lewis Hassell


Betty Jean Lewis Hassell was born in Greene County, Mississippi on January 30, 1941. She is the third of five siblings, to the union of Jasper and Lottie Lewis. The family moved to Urbana-Champaign in 1943 where she has resided ever since. Mrs. Hassell attended the Urbana Public Schools and graduated from Urbana High School in 1959. She attended Parkland College, majoring in Child Development.

In 1960, Betty married Charles Edward Hassell, Sr., and they are the proud parents of three children: Charles E. Hassell, Jr., Philip L. Hassell, Sr., and Elana M. Hassell. They are also blessed with three grandchildren: Danielle, Philip Jr., and Joshua Hassell.

Betty was baptized and united with Salem Baptist Church in Champaign. She was very active in the youth choir and served as Director and pianist. Betty also assisted and played for the Majestic and Gospel Choir at Salem Baptist Church. She has been a pianist at Salem since 1973 and was named Assistant Minister of Music in 1982.

For a brief time, Mrs. Hassell left the Urbana-Champaign area to join her husband on military assignment, immediately resuming her church activities and community involvement upon her return. Over the years, her activities have included: Sunday School Educator, Secretary, Sunshine Children's Choir Director, Missionary for Prison Ministry, Church Bulletin Clerk, Vacation Bible School Registrar and Superintendent, Festival for Youth Manager, Operation Excellence Volunteer, Children's Holiday Organizer, Choir Day Director, and Woman's Day Chairperson for the Salem Baptist Church, Registrar for National Baptist School of Religion, Assistant Director and Bookkeeper to Helen E. Johnson at Salem Baptist Church Pre-School, Member of the National Black Child Institute, Assistant Secretary and Secretary in the Wood River District Region 3, Board Member of the Champaign County YWCA, Vice President of the National Council of Negro Women, Muscular Dystrophy Drive Volunteer, March of Dimes worker, organizer of "Do the Right Thing,” Urban League, and Best Interest of the Children Volunteer.

Some of Mrs. Hassell's most memorable moments have been the birth of her children and grandchildren, being nominated for "Mom of the Year" at the University of Illinois in 1988, being a recipient of the Eddie Bee Edwards Black Humanitarian Award of the Baptist General State Convention, and the Outstanding Villagers Award given to her by the Ministerial Alliance of Champaign and Urbana. Mrs. Hassell has played a strong mentoring role for many young women and men, not only in her church and community, but around the world as well. She takes pleasure in seeing the children she mentors grow up meeting their educational and spiritual goals as adults.