College mourns the passing of Bettye Jo Mastrine

John P. Finn

Director of Public Information

A rare combination of wit and wisdom defined the life of Bettye Jo Mastrine, who brought clarity, stability and efficiency to the College’s highest administrative office during her remarkable tenure as executive assistant to the president. She had a unique ability to manage multiple tasks and diffuse stressful situations with her dry sense of humor and her deep but cheerful laugh that resonated daily throughout Galpin Hall.

Born in Boone, N.C., Bettye Jo earned an associate’s degree at Lees-McRae Junior College in Banner Elk, N.C., in 1969. She moved to Wayne County in 1978 and joined the Wooster Family in 1979 as a member of the secretarial services department. Three years later, she became secretary to the dean of admissions, and in 1984 she moved to the president’s office, where she remained for the next 27 years, serving three college presidents: Henry J. Copeland from 1984 to 1996, R. Stanton Hales from 1995 to 2007, and Grant H. Cornwell from 2007 until her death.


“Bettye Jo was a consummate professional as executive assistant to the president and a vital part of this college’s life for more than 30 years, serving three presidents with skill, dedication, discretion, and not least, humor,” said President Cornwell. “She loved this special place and its people, and we, in turn, loved her. As a newcomer to both The College of Wooster and the presidency, I learned a tremendous amount from Bettye Jo, for which I will always be grateful. I will miss her greatly.”

A dedicated employee and a loyal colleague, Bettye Jo was highly visible across campus at lectures, receptions, concerts, theatre productions, art exhibitions, sporting events, and, of course, baccalaureate and commencement exercises. In the office, she was especially adept at handling inquiries and concerns from parents, alumni, and a variety of other constituents, particularly when the President and other key administrators were away. In addition, she was responsible for scheduling appointments, making travel arrangements, reviewing documents, and serving the Board of Trustees to ensure that their needs were met in a timely fashion.

For Bettye Jo, Wooster was far more than a 9-to-5 experience, it was a lifetime investment. She would often arrive early and stay late, just to be sure that every important piece of business or correspondence had been properly handled that day.

The College became a family affair in 1988 when her son, Erich Riebe, enrolled at Wooster and went on to have a Hall-of-Fame Career with the Scot basketball team. Several years later, son Seth, joined the Wooster family and became a standout with the Scot football team. Her son Beau joined the staff in 2001 and has served as director of grounds since 2004.

Bettye Jo’s noteworthy commitment and compassion served the College well for three decades, but what family, friends and colleagues may remember most is her warm and welcoming smile, and her belief that life wasn’t meant to be taken too seriously.

“We have lost a dear friend,” said Sally Patton, senior advisor to the president for development and emeritus vice president for development. “Bettye Jo was able to handle good times and bad with grace and good humor. She also had a real talent for friendship. We are so lucky to have known her.”