Betty Izant Turns 100
One of Ojai’s most beloved citizens, Betty Izant, turned 100 on Tuesday, April 5, Currently a resident of the Gables, Izant was the very first paid employee of the Ojai Music Festival, joining the creative team in the late 1960’s as a “secretary,” following a previous career as a dress designer. Izant grew with the festival, later securing the position as box office manager, which she maintained until her retirement.
“Over the years, Betty’s greeted thousands of visitors, and helped them to fall in love with Ojai,” said Jeffrey Haydon, executive director of the Ojai Music Festival. Haydon, who took time out of his schedule to personally pay a visit to Izant on her special day, delivered a beautiful bouquet of flowers, warm birthday wishes, and hugs.
“I was worried I was going to miss her; I’m so glad I was able to see her today, she’s such an amazing person.” Haydon shared a heartwarming story that is one of Izant’s fondest memories. When the festival was in it’s infancy, the illustrious composer and conductor Pierre Boulez was visiting the office headquarters during the Music Festival, when he spotted Izant.
“What do you do here?” Boulez asked the young woman behind the desk.
“I’m the secretary,” she replied.
“Oh, that means you run the place!” Boulez exclaimed. Haydon chuckled recounting the exchange. He went on to elaborate on Izant’s important contributions to O.M.F. over the years.
“Betty’s like a computer. She invented a complex system of tracking ticket sales for the festival, she’s incredible,” Hadon added with a cheerful grin.
Izant was also an award-winning horsewoman in her youth, participating in equestrian events throughout the Ojai Valley. An impressive framed 8×10 photo of Izant and her horse captured midair as the duo cleared a high jump during a competition in which Izant won a blue ribbon, is displayed on the living room table.
To celebrate her birthday, the Gables staff organized a trip to the beauty parlor for Izant in the morning, and a birthday party at the noon hour meal. The communal dining room was decorated with a colorful birthday banner celebrating 100. A fresh bouquet of roses cut from the garden was placed before her seat, and pink, blue and white balloons were tethered to her chair. Then, the staff presented her with song, and a home made, double layer chocolate cake with five candles.
“There’s not enough room to put 100 candles,” said a staff member placing the cake before Izant to make her wish.
It was a busy day for a girl turning 100. Smiling and noticeably touched, Izant whispered in awe, “I’m overwhelmed, just overwhelmed.”