Elizabeth S. “Betsy” Dunn, of Marion, passed away peacefully, on Tuesday, February 7, 2023 at Tobey Hospital.
Betsy was born in New Bedford, MA in 1934 to Lionel J. and Thelma P. (Benner) Sequeira of Marion. She loved growing up in Marion and graduated from Wareham High School in 1952. As a lifelong Marion resident, she developed strong and permanent friendships and was well-known for her wicked sense of humor and steadfast loyalty to her friends. She graduated from New England Baptist School of Nursing in 1955. On June 30, 1956, she married William T. Dunn and they settled in Marion to raise their family.
Upon graduating from New England Baptist Hospital in 1955 as a Registered Nurse, Betsy began a long and distinguished career in nursing. After returning to school in 1971, Betsy became one of the very first Pediatric Nurse Practitioners in New England, graduating from the Northeastern University Nurse Practitioner Program and shortly thereafter joining the faculty. While on the faculty, she pursued additional studies and received her BSN from Northeastern University in 1982. In 1983, Betsy and her co-authors wrote and published, “The Manual of Ambulatory Pediatrics”. It remained in print through 2009, and was a top-rated clinical guide for a generation of pediatric nurses. Her book received the American Journal of Nursing’s coveted “Book of the Year Award” as well as the “Achievement of Excellent Writing of a Manual Award” by the National Association of Continuing Education. All of this was accomplished while raising 4 children, working full-time, and being an integral part of her much loved church and community.
Betsy practiced both pediatric and public health nursing for almost 60 years in various capacities. The bulk of her career was spent as a pediatric nurse practitioner working alongside her mentor and dear friend, Dr. Charles Gleason. Betsy relished caring for generations of children and teens. She found special joy in caring for the children of parents who had been her patients in their childhood.
In addition to her work in private practice, she served as a health coordinator and consultant to the Wareham School System for more than a decade. Betsy went on to serve as a nurse practitioner at the Massachusetts Maritime Academy. She annually volunteered to organize and staff flu vaccination clinics for both Marion and Rochester.
Betsy was always a dedicated caregiver – it was her vocation and an essential part of who she was. She approached her patients with kindness, compassion, and a deep appreciation for their individual needs. Later in life, some of her patients or their family members became her caregivers and treated her with the same love, compassion, and respect she had shown them. A common theme in conversations was often, “Oh, I loved Mrs. Dunn…she was my favorite”, as they recalled a special and deeply personal way that she had touched their lives.
A 1998 letter to the New Bedford Standard Times was headlined, “Nurse that treats children like her own”. The letter was written by a grateful parent of two young boys. Chronicling Betsy’s magic touch with children in an often scary situation, the letter notes, “Mrs. Dunn is our family hero. A special person in our lives, a guardian angel if you will…she is a peacemaker in the most stressful concern in a parent’s life – your children’s health.” This was the Betsy Dunn we all knew and loved.
Her devotion to her community and church knew no limits. Well into her 80’s, Betsy served as an elected member of the Marion Board of Health and was appointed to the Marion Zoning Board of Appeals. She was instrumental in fundraising to build the Gleason Family YMCA and served on the Board of Managers.
Few things were more important to Betsy than the First Congregational Church of Marion. A lifelong member of the Church, she served in a number of elected positions over the years. Betsy enthusiastically enjoyed her role as a member of the choir. She was devoted to her fellow choir members and seldom missed an opportunity to join them in celebration. While always focused on the future of her beloved church, Betsy was as concerned about chronicling the church’s past. She was still working on archiving church history through January of this year as well as initiating the process of having the church declared a historic landmark.
Betsy was devoted to all her friends. Her love for them was matched by their love and devotion to her. Three groups in particular brought immense comfort, joy and laughter to her life. Betsy loved the “Basket Ladies” and their Thursday morning weaving sessions. She greatly enjoyed the company of her Board of Health pals, originally coworkers, who became fast and committed friends and celebrated often with Friday dinners. Betsy’s latest passion was the newly established Church Historic Review Committee with her close church friends. They would meet every Tuesday morning to review historical papers, share some laughs and some memories, and preserve the church’s’ history.
Betsy had a strong and loving presence in the neighborhood. A neighbor shared a note expressing her deep love for Betsy and detailing the many ways she had impacted her life. She wrote of Betsy’s wise counsel and her help in navigating losses in her own life. In her letter, she wrote, “She was loving and wonderful and everything that an Amazing Yankee woman should be,” and “Anyone who was blessed to know her, was blessed indeed.”
Betsy’s greatest passion was her family.
Her home was a place where hugs and gingersnaps were abundant. She had a special place in her heart for each of her 10 grandchildren and 3 great-grandchildren. She eagerly anticipated hearing about their interests, accomplishments, shenanigans, and joys and was a source of wise counsel and comfort when was needed. Betsy always referred to her grandchildren as “Her Pot of Gold at the end of the Rainbow!”
Betsy was predeceased by Bill, her husband of 55 years, her parents, Lee and Thelma Sequeira, and her sister, Thelma (Sis) B. Vanstone of Florida.
Betsy is survived and deeply missed by her four children, W. Thomas Dunn, Jr, M.D., and his wife Susan of Auburn, ME, Catherine E. Arkins and her husband Daniel of Gloucester, MA, Michael L. Dunn of Oriental, NC and Brian P. Dunn of Marion, MA. Betsy was the beloved grandmother of Christopher Dunn (Chantal), Caroline Dunn, and W. Cooper Dunn, Brendan Arkins (Katie), Elizabeth Arkins Dasco (Dylan), Anna Arkins, Maggie Dunn and Lee Dunn and Samuel Dunn and Kathleen Dunn. She was also blessed with 3 great-grandchildren, Henry, Claire, and William Dunn (of ME). Betsy is also survived by her loving sister, Eleanor S. Mower (Robert) of Marion and her brother-in-law, Robert Vanstone of Fort Lauderdale, FL.
A Memorial Service will be held at the First Congregational Church of Marion at 11 AM on Saturday, April 29, 2023, with a reception to follow.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Betsy’s memory to: Betsy Dunn Music Fund, The First Congregational Church of Marion, P.O. Box 326, Marion, MA 02738.
Arrangements by Chapman Funerals & Cremations – Wareham. To leave a message of condolence visit: www.chapmanfuneral.com