By Al Lowe
Contributing Writer 

Betty Koffler, former editor of the South Hills Record, the Server


Elizabeth L. “Betty” Koffler, of Brookline, who edited the South Hills Record from 1964 to 1982, had a life filled with small adventures.

Virginia Leas, of Whitehall, a friend from Mrs. Koffler's youth in Overbrook, recalled her adventurous nature and remembered their exploring an Overbrook creek or visiting the county morgue when they were girls. Mrs. Koffler had a unique adolescence since the basement of her home was a “teen canteen” in the 1940s that was once featured in an article in Roto Magazine in the Pittsburgh Press.

Mrs. Koffler,77, died of breast cancer June 6 at ManorCare Health Services in Green Tree.

Mrs. Koffler's parents, Coy and Kathryn Harrison started the “teen canteen” after they bought some secondhand booths with $800 they had been planning to spend on a vacation. They added a Coke machine, ping pong table, record player and player piano to rooms in their home and invited area youth to come and dance and talk, her brother, Paul Harrison, of North Hills, said.

The teens referred to the basement as “Harrison's.”

“You'd be surprised how the kids today would accept and could benefit from doing what we did back then,” said Harrison, who talks to Carrick teens occasionally and is director of the Carrick High School Alumni Association.

About 40 or 50 teens attended on a typical night and Mrs. Koffler's mother was chaperone. The teen hang-out closed when the Harrisons moved to Brookline.

Mrs. Koffler married her husband Francis and worked as an operator for Bell Telephone, prior to her South Hills Record job.

Her children remember accompanying her to the council meetings she covered as a reporter and editor.

”I thought they were really boring,” said her daughter, Christine Whyle, of Green Tree, although her mother found them quite interesting.

She and her brother, Martin, who now lives in McKees Rocks, earned popsicle money by helping their mother by stapling flyers or using the addressograph machine.

Although she was proud of her work, Mrs. Koffler frequently chuckled over a typo that once appeared in the weekly newspaper due to hasty proofreading.  The reference in the story was supposed to be “councilmatic action.”  Instead story had a mention of “councilmaniac action.”

Her next adventure was when she left the South Hills Record to edit the Server, a monthly restaurant trade publication started by Mike Romanus. She worked there for a decade.

Mrs. Koffler was also secretary of the Pittsburgh Purveyors Association and secretary for the American Culinary Federation, Pittsburgh chapter.

“My mother was very unselfish,” her daughter said.  “She wrote letters and would do anything for anybody.  She spent a lot of time with her family.”

In addition to her daughter, son and brother, Mrs. Koffler is survived by one granddaughter.

There was no viewing, but the family held a celebration of her life at a Millvale restaurant on Sunday, June 12.


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