A longtime supporter of Idyllwild Arts Academy, Eric Bettelheim, 66, died of respiratory distress Sunday, Nov. 1, 1998, while on a visit in Borrego Springs.

Mr. Bettelheim was born April 4, 1932, in Asyut, Egypt. He worked as an engineer for Ralph M. Parsons Co. in Pasadena until his retirement in 1987, at which time he and his wife, Phyllis, moved to Idyllwild.

The couple lived here for eight years and moved to Temecula three years ago where they lived at the time of Mr. Bettelheim's death.

While in Idyllwild, the Bettelheims were very active with the Associates of Idyllwild Arts Academy. Mr. Bettelheim was an accomplished woodworker. He selflessly donated his skills to many projects. For instance, the bookcases at the Idyllwild Arts library were his creation.

One of the special projects he performed was a joint effort with former International Chamber Orchestra Conductor Jung Ho Pak to improve the acoustics in the IAF (or Bowman) Theatre. When you're sitting in the theatre, take a look at the ceiling and note the curved slats of wood. Mr. Bettelheim cut each piece of wood, he and his wife sanded them and Mr. Pak attached the pieces himself, ascending by scaffolding.

Headmaster Bill Lowman and his wife, Carolyn, are donating a plaque to Mr. Bettelheim to be attached to one of the seats in the theatre.

Mr. Bettelheim, in his little woodworking shop in Idyllwild, also built the furniture for his son's optometry office. As well as woodworking, he enjoyed classical music, traveling and cooking.

After moving, he and his wife became members of the Presidents Associates of the Zoological Society of San Diego.

Mr. Bettelheim's remains were to be cremated with a private scattering at sea. The family will hold a private celebration of life gathering in his name on Dec. 5. Stout Family Funeral Home of Temecula is handling funeral arrangements.

Along with his wife, he is survived by a son, Eric A. Bettelheim, of La Canada.