Emma W. Hays saved Margaret L. and Ralph B. Scribner from suffocation, Knoxville, Tennessee, October 21, 1944. Mrs. Scribner, 69, and her husband, 73, were overcome by gas that was seeping through openings in the bathroom floor of their one-story home. Mrs. Scribner lay on the floor in a hallway close to a doorway into the bathroom, and Scribner lay on the floor in a bedroom close to a doorway into the hallway. Outside doors were locked. Miss Hays, 19, bookkeeper, ran on a porch to the bathroom window, which was slightly open, and saw Mrs. Scribner. She opened the window to full extent, the opening being 25 inches high and 11 inches wide. It was 46 inches above the porch floor. Removing her shoes and jacket, she stepped up on a block and put one leg, an arm, her head, and shoulders inside the opening. Telling others that she smelled gas, she was urged not to enter; but she worked herself through the opening, aided by two persons who pushed her from the rear. Stepping down to the bathtub and to the floor, she ran through the hallway and adjoining kitchen and opened an outside door. She then opened windows in other rooms. She and a man who had entered the door carried Mrs. Scribner to a room where the fumes were less strong. A little later the Scribners were removed to a hospital. Both recovered. Miss Hays suffered from headache and was nauseated. 40336-3388
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Betty Emma Wilson Hays Peterson died on Feb. 2, 2019, at Westminster Manor in Austin, Texas, where she had lived since 2003. She was born in Johnson City, Tenn., on May 26, 1925, to Katherine Mae Wilson and Robert Reeves Hays. She and her siblings grew up on their grandparents’ farm in Jonesboro, Tenn., and she was most proud of her Scots-Irish heritage and Appalachian roots.
Peterson attended East Tennessee State University. After her marriage to Don Collins Peterson, Jr., in 1945, she moved to Nocona, Tex. The family later settled in the Memorial area of Houston.
In 1978, Peterson moved to Austin, where she worked in the Texas Legislature for several years. During her time at the Capitol, she fulfilled her lifelong dream of completing her college degree, which she earned at St. Edward’s University.
Peterson loved gardening. Beds of native Texas plants, sweet peas, and larkspur beautified her yard. She especially loved being a grandmother, and she selflessly encouraged the unique gifts and abilities of each of her grandchildren.
She was buried at Austin Memorial Park.
(Edited from an obituary published at dignitymemorial.com.)