BETTY MORAIS, 1923-2013

‘Visionary’ expanded Planned Parenthood


Betty Morais, the well-known voice and face of Planned Parenthood who in 20 years at the helm presided over expanded services and facilities in northwest Ohio, died Tuesday in Hospice of Northwest Ohio, South Detroit Avenue. She was 90.

Mrs. Morais, of Ottawa Hills the last 12 years, was in declining health, her son Peter said.

She was executive director of Planned Parenthood of Northwest Ohio for 18 years, through the end of 1993. She oversaw Planned Parenthood’s move from a rented storefront to its own clinic and office building on Jefferson Avenue. Expanded medical and education programs brought services to the region, including Bowling Green and Fremont.

“She was a visionary,” said Dr. Shirish Shah, who was Planned Parenthood medical director. “She was a great fund-raiser, and she was surrounded by people who believed in the cause.

“She was a great boss to work for. She would listen to you. When she had given you a project, she would trust that you would do it properly.”

Her oversized eyeglasses became a personal trademark — distinctive and a bit humorous, her son said.

“It seemed an expression of her openness to people,” her son said. “It was a signature item that gave her memorability.”

Of all the affiliates nationwide, northwest Ohio’s was recognized one year for excellence in medical services.

“That’s the feather in her cap. She wanted to serve the community which needed her help,” Dr. Shah said.

In 1987, she received the Community Service Award from the Junior League of Greater Toledo. In 1997, she was among six women who received the annual Milestones award from the YWCA of Greater Toledo. In 2007, she received the Community Advocacy Award during an awards dinner sponsored by Advocates for Basic Legal Equality, Legal Aid of Western Ohio, and the Toledo Bar Association’s Pro Bono Legal Services Program.

Before Planned Parenthood, she was a human resources coordinator for the Economic Opportunity Planning Association of Greater Toledo. She’d spent about 20 years, though, as a dedicated volunteer — the Toledo section of the National Council of Jewish Women; the Junior League of Toledo; the League of Women Voters; programs for youth in need — and she often was an officer in groups she was committed to.

She noted that her husband, Harold, “has always seen me as an individual with my own talents and has encouraged me to work in any area in which I feel a deep concern,” she told The Blade in 1977.

After Planned Parenthood, she was among the organizers of Community Shares, a coalition of nonprofit groups that receive funding through voluntary payroll deductions.

She was born March 5, 1923, in Minneapolis to Esther and Lewis Himmelman. She received a bachelor’s degree from the University of Minnesota and a master’s degree in personnel psychology from Ohio State University. She worked in New York City for the Army adjutant general’s office before settling in Toledo.

She worked for Lasalle & Koch, the downtown department store, and became head of its personalized shopping section. At the store, an elevator operator introduced her to her husband, Harold, who was in charge of displays.

She and Harold, married Sept. 1, 1950. He died March 5. 1999. Their son Anthony died July 4, 2009.

Surviving are her daughter, Nina deCordova, and son, Peter Morais.

A celebration of life service is pending. Arrangements are by the Foth-Dorfmeyer Mortuary.

Mrs. Morais’ family said she suggested tributes to Hospice of Northwest Ohio; the Toledo Area Humane Society, or the American Civil Liberties Union.

Contact Mark Zaborney at: or 419-724-6182.