La Leche League International Co-Founder Betty Wagner Spandikow Passes Away
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact Information: Jane Crouse, PRManager at llli.org (847) 519-7730, Ext. 271.
Betty Wagner Spandikow, co-founder of La Leche League International, and resident of Glen Ellyn, Illinois, USA, died Sunday October 26th at the age of 85.
Betty was known internationally as one of the founders of La Leche League International (LLLI) and also a co-author of the popular book "The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding" which has sold over 2 million copies and has been translated into eight languages and Braille. In 1956, Betty Wagner and six other women met in Franklin Park, Illinois to share information on how to successfully breastfeed their babies. From these roots, La Leche League developed into an international organization with breastfeeding support groups in every state and 68 different countries.
Betty not only attended the first LLLI meeting, but she also became the group’s first treasurer and business manager, positions she held until 1975. She was also a member of the LLI Board of Directors and was their Chief Executive Officer for 19 years from 1972 until 1991 when she retired. As CEO, 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 parents to be home with their children after school. Betty's ideas about work teams and home offices were also far ahead of their time. It was these types of innovations that played a role in enabling the organization, made up mainly of mothers, to grow and be effective in a highly structured business world. After she retired as CEO, she remained a member of the LLLI Founders Advisory Council until her death.
Betty was a sought-after speaker who discussed breastfeeding and parenting at conferences throughout the U.S. and in countries such as Ireland, France, Germany, Switzerland, South Africa, Zimbabwe, New Zealand, Canada and El Salvador. She also spoke at the United Nations.
Betty had seven children. She is survived by children - Robert Wagner (Pam) Marco Island FL; Peggy Dowd Henderson (Ric) Marietta GA; Dorothy Rasmussen, Portage, MI and Helen Huntley (Brian Bleess) Wheaton, IL. Betty is also survived by 26 grandchildren and 22 great-grandchildren. Her second husband, Paul Spandikow resides in Paris, TN.
She is preceded in death by her first husband, Robert Wagner, and children Gail Gratzianna, Wayne Wagner, Mary Wright and grandson Andrew Wright.
Details for a “celebration of life” are pending and more information will be available at www.llli.org. 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.