Elizabeth “Betty” Richards Andujar, state legislator, was born in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, on November 6, 1912. She was the daughter of Katharine L. (Beetem) and Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Justice Karl E. Richards. Justice Richards served as assistant to the district attorney and then as district attorney (1932–37), and finally was elected Pennsylvania’s first Orphan’s Court judge. He retired as chief justice. His daughter was baptized soon after her birth in the Presbyterian Church under the name Katharine Elizabeth Richards, which she used in official documents including her marriage certificate. She attended Wilson College, a Presbyterian all-women’s college in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, where she received a B.A. degree in 1934. Betty Richards married physician John Jose Andujar on August 16, 1935, in Dauphin County, Pennsylvania. At the time, she listed her occupation as stenographer.
The Andujars moved to Texas in 1937 when her husband transferred to Harris Memorial Methodist Hospital in Fort Worth, Texas, to be the laboratory director. The Andujars traveled extensively with their two daughters, B.J. (born 1942) and Linda Lee (born 1945), to places like Havana, Cuba; the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (U.S.S.R.); and the United Kingdom. Andujar considered herself a housewife—as listed on the Liverpool Port Authority Entry interview in 1957.
Before her political career, Andujar was active in political campaigns and community outreach programs, including Gen. Dwight Eisenhower’s presidential race in 1952. She served as a Republican National Committeewoman in 1964 and as a delegate to the Republican National Convention in 1968. She first ran for the Texas Senate in 1970 when encouraged by her party but was unsuccessful. She won her second race, in 1972, and her victory marked the first election of a Republican to the Texas Senate since Reconstruction. She was also the first Republican woman in the Texas Senate and the first woman and Republican from Tarrant County to serve in the Senate. She was honored with the title of “Female Newsmaker of the Year” in 1972. That same year, fellow female Republican Kay Bailey Hutchinson was elected to the Texas House.
Andujar served in the Texas State Senate and represented District 12 (Tarrant County) from January 9, 1973, to January 11, 1983, in the Sixty-third through Sixty-seventh Texas legislatures. While in office, Senator Andujar again served as delegate to both 1972 and 1976 National Republican conventions and served as the Republican National Committeewoman for Texas between 1976 and 1980. Most remarkably, she was elected the first Republican president pro tempore of the Senate during the Sixty-fifth legislative session. She was honored as “Governor For A Day” on May 7, 1977.
Her committee service included State Affairs, Human Resources, Economic Development, chair for the Human Resources Subcommittee on Public Health and Welfare, and vice chair for the State Affairs Subcommittee on Nominations. She supported the formation of the Texas Commission on the Status of Women and sponsored legislation to assist women with securing child support. Andujar particularly championed medical causes and worked to update the state medical examiner system. She also sponsored legislation to allow physicians to remove corneas. Andujar’s list of civic activities from her last session in office (published 1981) included board membership on the Medical College of Pennsylvania, Texas Rape Prevention and Control Project, Association for the Prevention of Blindness, and American Physical Therapy Association (Texas Chapter). She had served as past regional director of the National Order of Women Legislators, past president of the Auxiliary to Tarrant County Medical School, and past chair of the Education Committee of the Tarrant Unit of the American Cancer Society.
In 1980 Andujar suffered a heart attack and was unable to serve in the Senate for several months. After her retirement from public office in 1983, she received several honors from her legislation and active campaigning for the North Texas medical community. In 1988 the Andujars established the first permanent chair of pathology at Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, Texas. She demonstrated her dedication to the medical community when she actively promoted the expansion of the Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine (now known as the University of North Texas Health Science Center). Additionally, she had served as the first president of the Auxiliary World Association Society of Pathologists. In 1996 Betty Andujar was the first non-physician to receive the Citation of Merit Award from the Texas Society of Pathologists for her legislation requiring county coroners to be certified pathologists.
Throughout her active political career, Betty Andujar always listed her occupation as “housewife.” Despite her active lifestyle and constant philanthropic contributions to the community, Andujar fought leukemia in the last twenty-six years of her life (1971–97), inclusive of her time in office. She died in her Fort Worth home on June 8, 1997, and was buried in the Stateman’s Meadow at the Texas State Cemetery in Austin. Her personal papers were donated to the Special Collections of the University of Texas at Arlington’s Libraries and are available for public use.