Master gardener, herb retailer, and herb educator and leader Michael Donel Bettler died on March 28, 2019, surrounded by loved ones.
Born in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, on June 11, 1944, to Marcellus and Ellen (née Reed) Bettler, Michael was the younger of two children. His older brother, David Bettler, precedes him in death, as does his beloved wife of 45 years, Lucia Ferrara Bettler.
Raised primarily in Houston, Texas, Bettler attended Lamar High School and began his undergraduate education at Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches, Texas. A life-long traveler, he left school to join the US Peace Corps in 1967 and served two years in Niger, where he managed a well water pump installation program, taught water conservation and sanitation, created vegetable gardens, and adventured alongside the Tuareg people.
Upon his return to the United States, Bettler enrolled at the University of St. Thomas in Houston, where he met and married the love of his life, Lucia. After completing a degree in English, he went on to professionally teach English as a Second Language (ESL), which allowed him to share his love for language with students from diverse colleges, universities, and private corporations.
In partnership with his wife, Bettler was the co-owner of Lucia’s Garden, a gift and herbal shop that operated in Houston for more than 30 years. Through the shop, he drew from his life’s work and from his training as a Harris County Master Gardener to teach extensively about gardening, herb growing, medicinal herbs, and the language of flowers. Bettler was a member of the Texas Community College Teachers Association, TexTESOL, and the International Herb Association. He was also a member and past president of the Texas Herb Growers and Marketers Association.
Bettler was a highly creative person who appreciated art in its many forms. He was an accomplished photographer, poet, hobbyist cartographer, and aficionado of the Sunday funnies. He loved to travel and had a deep appreciation for the Earth and all it has to offer. His quest for knowledge and his love of folklore and symbolism made him a consummate mentor and teacher. Perhaps most of all, he will be remembered for his quick wit and humor. It was often hard to tell if a story he told was true, embellished, or the stuff of imagination. At the end of the day, however, such details didn’t matter: His stories were always good and usually ended with a full-belly laugh.
Michael Bettler leaves behind a legacy of family and friends who cherish him. A memorial service celebrating Bettler’s life was held on May 4, 2019, at the Live Oak Friends Meeting House in Houston, Texas.