September 1923–October 2008
La Leche League International and the world lost an amazing woman when Betty Wagner Spandikow, of Glen Ellyn, Illinois, passed away October 26, 2008. Bettty was co-founder of La Leche League International and co-author of The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding, which has over 2 million copies in print.
In 1956, Betty Wagner and six other women met in Franklin Park, Illinois to share information on how to successfully breastfeed their babies. The group quickly attracted the attention of other women and became an organization called "La Leche League." Betty was expecting their fifth child, and when asked to be a part of the group that was being organized to help breastfeeding mothers, she was eager to join. The breastfeeding support group had been fascinated by the importance placed on breastfeeding by early Spanish settlers in America who, in 1598 dedicated a shrine to "Nuestra Senora de la Leche y Buen Parto" ("Our Lady of Happy Delivery and Plentiful Milk." They captured the Spanish word for milk, "leche," and from these roots grew La Leche League International, a breastfeeding support not-for-profit organization. LLLI has groups in every U.S. state and in 64 different countries. The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding has been translated into eight languages and Braille.
Betty was a member of the Board of Directors of La Leche League, and at various times served as Treasurer, Business Manager, and Executive Director, a title she held for 19 years until she retired. Betty initiated flex hours and a family-friendly workplace in the '60s, long before they became the popular perks they are today. Business hours at the La Leche League International office were set to allow mothers to be home with their children after school. Betty's ideas about work teams and home offices were also far ahead of their time.
Born Betty Redmond in September of 1923, and raised in the Chicago area, Betty went on to work in accounting before starting her family. After raising seven children, and being intimately involved in the business side of La Leche League, Betty retired as Executive Director of La Leche League at age 70. Her husband, Robert, had died in 1975. She met her second husband, Paul Spandikow, while square dancing. Recently Betty had suffered a stroke and been dealing with Alzheimer's. She was also cheered by cards and visits from her family and her LLL friends.
There will be a Celebration of Life service for Betty on Friday, November 14th.
St. Petronille Church
420 Glenwood Avenue
Glen Ellyn, IL 60137
(Downtown Glen Ellyn)
1-2 pm Catholic Mass
2-3 pm open house in the Parish Center
3-4 pm Celebration of Life service in the Parish Center.
Individuals may choose to attend the mass, the open house, the celebration service, or all three.
In support of the organization that Betty helped found, the family requests donations be made, in lieu of flowers, to La Leche League International, 957 N. Plum Grove Road, Schaumburg, IL, USA 60173 or online at www.llli.org.