Elizabeth (Betsy) A. Wagner

December 24, 1946 ~ August 3, 2019 (age 72)

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Elizabeth (Betsy) A. Wagner, 72, from Ipswich, MA, died on August 3, 2019 at Beverly Hospital in Beverly, MA. She suffered brain damage after respiratory and cardiac arrest and died after the removal of life support. She chose to donate her body to the Boston University School of Medicine.

Betsy was born in Baltimore, MD on Christmas Eve in 1946. She was the oldest of three daughters of Emma Belle and Carl Wagner. She graduated from Friends School of Baltimore in 1964 and from Towson University in Baltimore in 1970. She earned a Master’s in Arts degree in History with honors from Salem State University, Salem, MA, in 1994. 

In 1970, Betsy moved to Cambridge, MA with her high school friend, Val (Cogswell) Babson, who sadly predeceased her by four days. Her career as a travel agent started in 1970 and she ultimately worked for 4 agencies including Garber Travel in Boston, MA, Viking Travel in Reading, MA and On Time Travel in Ipswich, MA where she bought a home in 1984. She lived in Marblehead, MA before moving to Ipswich, where she lived for the remainder of her life. 

She began teaching part time at Endicott College in 1982. Eventually, she left the travel business to become a full-time professor at Endicott to teach Travel, Geography and Hospitality Management. She enjoyed teaching and especially the meals prepared by students in the student-operated fine dining restaurant of the Hospitality program. She retired from Endicott in 2007.   

Betsy loved many things in life. She loved cooking and eating good food especially Maryland lump crab cakes, beef, ice cream, and butterscotch sauce. She loved using humor as a way to relate to people and to live her life. This included sending funny greeting cards and emailing jokes. She loved the color green and chose green counters when she renovated her kitchen.She loved crossword puzzles and watching sports on TV especially the Patriots and college lacrosse. She loved history and books written about historical figures and events. She loved Ipswich, its history, and Crane’s Beach. Betsy was generous to those around her and to those causes she was passionate about.

She loved to travel and took trips throughout Europe and the U.S. as well as to other parts of the world such as India and Bali. She went on two photographic safaris. She loved Sanibel Island, FL and for many years, she spent time there every March with her parents and occasionally with other family members. She loved animals, in particular golden retriever dogs, having grown up with two of them. She adopted three golden retrievers and three cats over the course of her life and loved them dearly. She also loved elephants and was concerned about their survival in the world. 

In her retirement years, Betsy became a leader in her church, First Church in Ipswich. She was the Clerk for many years and was on the Historical Committee. While serving on that committee, she helped to arrange for the restoration of an antique Prescott bass from the 1700’s the church owned. It was dedicated during a church service in 2013. She was also on the church’s Scholarship Committee, helping to decide annually who would be the scholarship recipients. Other volunteer activities included working at the information desk at Addison Gilbert Hospital, providing rides to elderly Ipswich residents and leading tours at the Ipswich Museum’s Heard House. She had been active in various AA meetings in Ipswich and neighboring towns.

 She is survived by her sisters, Louise Wagner of Timonium, MD, and Barbara Wagner of Arlington, MA, Barbara’s husband, Timothy Durning, her nieces, Rachel Durning and Gretchen Durning, many cousins and dear friends. 

A celebration of Betsy’s life will be held on Saturday, September 21st, at 1:00 pm at First Church in Ipswich, 1 Meetinghouse Green, Ipswich, MA 01938. Following the service, all are welcome to a reception in the church’s Fellowship Hall. 

For her obituary, Betsy herself wrote, “in lieu of sending flowers, plant flowers, make things, vote Democrat, drink coffee, undercook steaks, listen to Beethoven and Mozart, do the Sunday puzzle in ink, save elephants, love your pets or donate to….” We suggest a donation in her memory to First Church in Ipswich or to the African Wildlife Foundation ( because of her love of elephants. 

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A celebration of Betsy's life First Church in Ipswich 1 Meetinghouse Green
September 21, 2019

1:00 PM
First Church in Ipswich
1 Meeting House Green
Ipswich, MA 01938

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