A kind, soft spoken and gentle woman
NORWELL — Elizabeth A. “Betty” (Rafferty) Angel, 82, of Norwell, died suddenly on Friday, December 31, 2021. She was the loving mother of Jennifer Moran and Kelly MacKeen, who was with her at the time of her death. She was also the devoted, long-time companion of Richard Sesnewicz, with whom she had enjoyed the past 20 years of life. A kind, soft spoken, gentle woman, Betty had the special ability to make all those she came in contact with feel as if they were the most special person in the world to her. She will be fondly remembered and greatly missed by all who knew her.
Born on August 13, 1939 in Stoneham, she was the daughter of the late William E. and Helen (Marshall) Rafferty. Raised in Wakefield, she attended Wakefield Schools and was a graduate of Wakefield High School, class of 1957. Betty’s sweet, kind, caring, loving and compassionate nature, as well as her unique way of immediately connecting with people, were evident very early in life. It was these special qualities that compelled her toward the pursuit of a career in nursing. After her graduation from high school, she enrolled in the Massachusetts General Hospital Nursing program, graduating in 1960.
She soon found employment with a non-profit organization that traveled both in the United States and internationally, rendering medical services to the underprivileged and those serving in the military. The quote by the late Betty White best summarizes the next several years of her life, “Butterflies are like women – We may look pretty and delicate, but we can fly through a hurricane.” This was a courageous career path for a young lady at that time, but Betty had no hesitancy; only optimism, excitement and ambition to travel the world and help as many people as possible. She felt great pride in utilizing her special gifts; connecting and demonstrating humanity and compassion to all people across all cultures. One of her most important assignments during this time was working on a medical ship off the coast of Libya and Tunisia during the Vietnam War.
Her nursing journey also included positions in many different states and hospitals including Walter Reed Hospital in Washington, DC, North Miami Beach Hospital and Saint Anne’s Hospital in Fall River. She was a great listener and communicator who made many friends in life by always knowing the right words to say and simple gestures to make you feel comforted; all of those same qualities that made her a special and top notch nurse.
She ultimately finished her stellar career, retiring in 2004, after working for over 25 years at Massachusetts General Hospital. During her MGH years, Betty continued to demonstrate her strong commitment to nursing and caring for others. She was always the first to assist in any call for help, even driving to work in the Blizzard of ‘78 because there was a desperate need for staffing. While working at MGH, she also continued her education, working tirelessly and earning her Bachelor’s degree from Northeastern University. In November 2018, Betty was selected as a Top Nurse by the International Nurses Association as a prestigious tribute to her successful healthcare professional.
She became known as the “travel nurse”, which at the time was a very important position at MGH and her clients came from all walks of life including local politicians, foreign royalty, corporate executives and families going on that once in a lifetime vacation. Her patients sang her high praises as evidenced by the many complimentary notes and holiday gifts she received every year. During this time at the travel clinic, she also met one very special patient; her long-time companion Richard Sesnewicz, with whom she made an instant connection that has lasted for many years.
Her MGH family extended beyond her loyal patients to her circle of friends “The Baby Club” that she spent many fun weekends with for many years. This circle of friends stayed close to Betty, visiting her often in the last few months.
While she was certainly dedicated to her nursing career, Betty’s greatest devotion was to her family. She was always a loving and devoted mother to her two daughters. When her children were young, Betty worked night shifts while taking care of them during the day, leaving minimal time for rest. She provided not only a loving and caring environment for her daughters, but her tireless efforts helped provide the financial stability to enable them to pursue their college educations and other aspirations. She did this all seemingly without effort, providing them an exemplary role model for how to balance career and family responsibilities. This devotion carried on to her grandchildren. Nothing made her happier than caring for her grandchildren while also helping her daughters who were then starting their own successful career journeys.
Betty also loved and cared very deeply for her entire extended family. She took great joy in supporting all of her nieces, nephews and grandchildren; attending as many of their sporting and school events as possible around New England, with a big smile and pride on her face. Fond memories also include many family vacations and parties to celebrate each and every special family occasion.
During her retirement years, Betty and Richard enjoyed many years of extensive travel; including trips throughout Europe, Hawaii, Alaska and Africa. They went on many adventures including cruises, ferry boat rides, bus trips and outdoor activities including white water rafting, hiking and helicopter rides. One of her favorite trips was the Safari where she saw amazing country sides, forests, exotic animals and she visited with children at school in Rwanda.
Betty is survived by her two daughters and their families; Jennifer Moran and her husband, Timothy, of Charlton, MA and grandchildren Tracy Murray and Mandy Clarke; Kelly MacKeen and her husband, David, of Boxford, MA and grandchildren Kate and Ryan MacKeen.
In addition, she is survived by her devoted, long-time companion Richard Sesnewicz of Norwell and his children; his son Brett and his wife, Kristen, and grandchildren Nadia, Alaina and Jachary, and his two daughters, Jenna and her husband, John Alves, and Lindsay Sesnewicz.
She also leaves behind her siblings and their respective spouses; Marilyn Ierardi of Lynn, William C. Rafferty and wife, Katherine Mac Donell, of Poulsbo; Mary Rafferty of Ipswich, MA and John and Claire Rafferty of Reading. She was the much loved “Auntie Betty” to Gail (Ierardi) Vaughn, Karen (Ierardi) Blanchard, Brian Ierardi, Sean Rafferty and Julia Rafferty as well as their respective spouses and children. Betty was also the sister-in-law of the recently deceased Luca A. “Luke” Ierardi.
A lifelong animal lover, Betty will also be greatly missed by her cats Annie and Rosie.
Visitation for relatives and friends will be held at the McDonald Funeral Home, 19 Yale Ave., Wakefield on Tuesday from 3-7 p.m. Funeral Mass will be celebrated in St. Joseph Church, 173 Albion St., Wakefield on Wednesday at 10 a.m. Interment, St. Patrick Cemetery, Stoneham.
In lieu of flowers donations can be made to MGH Institute of Health Professions (https://giving.mghihp.edu/), Helping other young professionals in achieving their dreams of entering healthcare is fitting for someone who touched and cared for so many throughout her lifetime.
For guestbook, please go to www.mcdonaldfs.com.