ORTL Founder Leaves Legacy of Compassion

A founder of Oregon Right to Life (ORTL) passed away in October.

Robert “Bob” Betschart helped create Oregon’s largest pro-life organization in 1970, approximately one year after the Beaver State legalized abortion and three years before Roe v. Wade. That action stemmed from his strong belief that the unborn are fully human and worthy of protection.

“Bob has always been pro-life; abortion was unthinkable to him,” says Joanne Betschart, his wife of 59 years. “What began as an effort to save babies and their families by former members of the Young Christian Workers grew into a statewide organization.”

A California native who went on to live in several towns in Oregon, Betschart was a farmer and held various positions within the lumber industry until retirement. He and Joanne had three children, five grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

“Bob was the kind of person who could see a problem, find a solution and then step out of the limelight,” Joanne says. “He always said that God knew what he did, and that was all that mattered.”

Betschart’s Catholic faith was vital to him, and he was incredibly active in multiple parishes, including starting a Respect Life ministry. He also stayed active with ORTL, attending rallies and conferences and assisting with pro-life booths at area Oktoberfests.

Betschart passed away peacefully on October 23, 2023 at the age of 83.

Joanne says a highlight of Betschart’s life was “seeing ORTL grow from its humble beginnings.” 

“I think that the legacy would be the lives of the unborn babies saved and their families and the people who have become involved in the pro-life movement because of ORTL,” she says. “His contribution to the overturning of Roe v. Wade would be prayer.”

Lois Anderson, ORTL’s Executive Director, points out that without people like Betschart, ORTL would not be the powerhouse pro-life organization it is today.

“Bob humbly gave so much of himself to help the most vulnerable Oregonians, and he also left us all with a wonderful example of service before self,” she says. “We at ORTL endeavor to stay the course he set for us, with the goal of helping women and their families choose life for the unborn.” 


get involved

Sign Up and Stay Informed