Elizabeth “Betsy” Mallery Brauer, 78, of Appleton, died peacefully on October 22, 2023, at Country Villa Memory Care in Little Chute. Our beloved Aunt Betsy passed away after a rapid health decline that surprised and saddened us. But we were comforted knowing it was 5 o’clock in heaven, and Jimmy Buffett was waiting, ready to greet one of his biggest fans with a margarita and a song.
Betsy was born April 21, 1945, to Jane and John Brauer in Wisconsin Rapids. She arrived on her mother’s and Queen Elizabeth’s birthday, thus the inspiration for her name. Betsy and her older sister, Barbara, spent their childhood loving books, waterskiing, and snow skiing. Summers on the Chain O’Lakes in Waupaca and road trips to Fort Lauderdale provided countless family memories.
Betsy graduated from Lincoln High School in Wisconsin Rapids and from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She continued her education at UW-Milwaukee, where she earned a master’s degree in history.
Lured by its cosmopolitan cities and numerous ski resorts, Betsy moved to the East Coast in the early 1970’s. She would spend the next three decades in New York and Boston, working for Skiing Magazine, Reed Productions, and Connors Exposition Group. A staunch feminist, Betsy led her own quiet but effective revolt against the “high heels” dress policy for women, showing up to work in comfortable sneakers, as she spent 15-hour days walking the unforgiving concrete floors of the convention centers.
Betsy worked hard and played hard. Jimmy Buffett concerts with her East Coast gang were a staple of her social life, which her wardrobe and home decor reflected. Brightly colored button-down blouses, scarves, fish-themed anything, and flamingo prints were the hallmarks of her style. She loved spending time at her cabin on picturesque Little Squam Lake in New Hampshire and worked as a hostess at the popular Common Man restaurant.
In 1999, Betsy moved back to Wisconsin to begin the Appleton chapter of her life story. She worked in marketing at Touchmark, then as an account executive at Strategies, Ltd. She relished the opportunities to regularly attend Badgers and Packers football games, 4th of July parties in Waupaca, and numerous family holidays. Betsy went all-in as a Great Aunt to her 12 great-nieces and nephews, annually spoiling them at Christmas with fashionable ski apparel. And she could always be counted on to contribute her signature dishes: clam dip with Ruffles potato chips, her famous baked beans, and cranberry pudding with hard sauce. She was just as dependable with a witty one-liner or a slightly raunchy joke -- because Aunt Betsy certainly believed that if we couldn’t laugh, we would all go insane.
Betsy volunteered with the History Museum at the Castle, the Boys & Girls Club of the Fox Valley, and the Wisconsin Alumni Association.
She is survived by her sister Barbara (Graham) Werner, and her nephews, niece, and their children: Jeff, Beth, Matt and Megan Werner; Greg, Sara, Jacob, Hannah and Elizabeth Werner; David, Anne-Marie, Graham, Henry, Meredith and Andrew Werner; and Ann, Carl, Phyllis, Maxine and Evelyn Kreiter. Betsy will also be missed by her Johnson and Nash cousins and extended Werner family.
A memorial service will be held on Tuesday, Nov. 14 at 11:00am at Wichmann Funeral Home, 537 N. Superior St., Appleton. Visitors are welcome to greet Betsy's family starting at 10 AM.
Donations may be made in Betsy’s memory to the History Museum at the Castle, online at myhistorymuseum.org, or via mail at 303 E. College Ave., Appleton, WI 54911.