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Elizabeth McMaster

October 11, 1931 August 21, 2017
Elizabeth McMaster
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Obituary for Elizabeth McMaster

Elizabeth Wilkins McMaster, 85, passed away on August 21 in Providence, Rhode Island. Known as Betsy, she was born October 11, 1931, to Lawson and Lucile Wilkins. Raised in Baltimore, where her father was a renowned professor of pediatrics at Johns Hopkins, she attended the Roland Park Country School before going to Swarthmore College.

After obtaining a master’s degree in social work from Columbia University, she enjoyed a long career that began at New York Hospital and continued at Providence’s Visiting Nurse Association where she was employed for many years. Her professional calling suited her perfectly as she loved talking with and learning about other people and finding ways to help them. Guided by her quiet optimism, determination and strength, she was undaunted by any challenge whether advocating for a family navigating the state’s social services system, jackhammering a concrete floor to renovate a room at home, cooking a wedding rehearsal dinner for 50, or embarking on a self-guided trek around the world with her husband Phil.

Betsy was a lifelong Francophile. She and Phil spent two marvelous years in Paris in the early 1960s – a time when she immersed herself in everything French including cooking classes at the Cordon Bleu becoming, as her husband said, a 7-star cook. She spent many happy weekends and holidays with Phil and their family sailing the waters of the Chesapeake Bay and the coast of New England. And she was never happier than when surrounded by friends and family at their summer home in Kennebunk, Maine.

Betsy never missed an opportunity to strike up a conversation with anyone – in English or French – resulting in countless friendships with people from all over. She was an active, long time member of a Providence women’s debating society, the Shakespeare Society, and her book group among many others. She enjoyed tutoring foreign students in English into her eighties and co-authored a book about her father that was published in 2014.

Betsy will be dearly missed by all, and especially by her husband Dr. Philip McMaster of Providence; her son Charley and his wife Debbie of Pepperell, Massachusetts; her son Joseph and his wife Gretchen Sinnett of Melrose, Massachusetts; and her grandchildren Caroline, Benjamin and Iain. She was predeceased by her brother George Lawson Wilkins II.

Family, friends and all who knew Betsy are warmly invited to attend a funeral service for her on September 9 at 11:15am at St. Martin’s Episcopal Church at 50 Orchard Avenue in Providence. Contributions may be made to St. Martin’s, the Parkinson’s Foundation, or the American Cancer Society.

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