Elizabeth Wolgast

Date of Birth

February 27th, 1929

Date of Death

October 13th, 2020

Memorial Meeting

Berkeley Monthly Meeting


Elizabeth (Betsy) H. Call Wolgast, died October 13, 2020 from complications following a stroke, in a convalescent home in Oakland, CA. She had been living in Berkeley until about two weeks before passing at 91. Elizabeth was born in Dunellen, NJ in February 1929 to Frank William Hankins and Evelyn Call. In 1936 the family moved to a farm outside Philadelphia run by her mother (a degreed nutritionist) while her father worked in business. She studied watercolor painting as a young woman which became a life-long passion for her. She met her husband, Richard (Dick) Wolgast, went on to earn a PhD in Philosophy at the University of Washington and had a long, distinguished career teaching at the Cal State University at Hayward. She was a trailblazer in her profession being the first tenured female professor in that department, which continued until she retired. She enjoyed visiting professorships at Dartmouth College, Cambridge (England), West Point, and Abo (Finland). She authored four philosophy texts and numerous journal articles.

She had an inquiring mind and skeptical nature. While often serious, she could be spontaneous and whimsical. She was an avid reader and enjoyed debating current events as well as global issues. As a philosopher, she manifested the best features of the analytic tradition, a commitment to clarity of expression and a search for truth. Her commitment to education led her to support several students struggling with their expenses. After retirement, she volunteered in a second-grade class in a public school. It brought her a lot of joy.

Elizabeth made her spiritual home at the Berkeley Society of Friends (Quakers) for nearly 60 years where she took on a variety of roles and made profound friendships. Dick and Elizabeth Wolgast became members of Berkeley Friends on May 14, 1967, and their children were Junior Members.

Her love of travel included many trips to Europe, along with a wildlife tour in Africa. She loved theater and had season tickets to the Berkeley Repertory Theater and the Shotgun players. Trained to play piano, she enjoyed classical music performances at Cal and attended the Bach Festival in Carmel. She was an avid tennis player and played doubles twice a week up to the last years of her life. She loved to ski as well and enjoyed the outdoors, including visits to her mountain condo, local hikes, and trips to national parks. Richard preceded her in death in 2012 in their 63rd year of marriage. Her children will miss her intellect, creativity, and humor.

She is survived by her daughter, Johanna Wolgast, her son, Stephen Wolgast and granddaughter, Jillian.

Eliabeth was remembered in a remote memorial service hosted by the Berkeley Society of Friends on Saturday, February 27, 2021.