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White Plains 'Citizen Extraordinaire' Wagner Dies

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. – Elizabeth Huse Brown Wagner, 97, of White Plains, died April 13.

A White Plains resident since 1946, Wagner was an advocate and volunteer for many local education, recreation and community beautification programs. She was a member of many local organizations, including the Woman's Club and College Club of White Plains, as well as the White Plains Historical Society.

She was born April 5, 1915, in Newburyport, Mass., to Mary Tyler Colby and Arthur Perkins Brown. She graduated from Wheaton College in Norton, Mass., in 1937. Wagner served as class secretary since 1967 and received an alumnae service award from the college in 1960 for her efforts on behalf of school integration in White Plains.

Wagner attended graduate school at Radcliffe College in Cambridge, Mass., before joining the staff of the Harvard College records office in 1938. She later became secretary to the dean of freshmen there, a post she held until her marriage in 1945 to Ralph Elwood Wagner. They moved to White Plains in 1946, following the completion of his tour of duty in the Air Force.

Wagner was the first president of the Church Street School Parent-Teacher Association. She served on numerous study committees and on the Adult Education Advisory Committee. She was president of the White Plains Council of Parent-Teacher Associations for two years in the early 1960s. Wagner also served as chairman of the Westchester District PTA for two years.

In 1968, Wagner received special recognition from the City of White Plains for her service to White Plains youth, schools and recreation projects. She served on the recreation advisory committee under Mayors Edwin G. Michaelian and Richard S. Hendey. Wagner became a staff writer for The Reporter Dispatch in 1964, a position she held for 10 years. She was responsible for both a daily calendar of events and a special events column.

Following her retirement in 1974, Wagner joined the Woman's Club of White Plains, where she served as chairman of the art show on several occasions. She was an editor and managing editor of the club’s magazine, Club Dial, for many years. Wagner served as club president from 1990 to 1992. She was a member and past president of the White Plains Garden Club and a section chairman for the Federated Garden Clubs of New York State.

Wagner joined the College Club of White Plains in 1964 and was made an honorary member in 1983 in recognition of her contributions to civic and community affairs. She served as its president from 1993 to 1995. A founding member of the Central Westchester Audubon Society, she served as president from 1982 to 1990. During her tenure, she was in charge of a community garden project at Burke Rehabilitation Center involving local children and their families.

She was a member of the board of directors and a past vice president of the White Plains Beautification Foundation, serving as one of its volunteer gardeners and contributing to its newsletter. An elder in the White Plains Presbyterian Church, she served as chairman of its property commission and as president of its women’s association.

Wagner was also a life member of the White Plains Historical Society, where she served on the board of directors and was named "Citizen Extraordinaire" in 1992  "for her many years of unstinting service to the White Plains community through her chosen community organizations."

Wagner is survived by two sons, David Wagner, of Mountain Ranch, Calif., and Stephen Wagner, of Earlysville, Va.; and two grandchildren. She was predeceased by her husband, Ralph, in 1987.

There will be a memorial service at 10 a.m. Saturday at White Plains Presbyterian Church. Ballard-Durand Funeral Home in White Plains is in charge of arrangements.

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