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Remembering Elizabeth "Betsy" Wiest

Former nursing faculty member Elizabeth “Betsy” Wiest passed away on Wednesday, May 22, 2013, at her home in Laramie, Wyoming. Dr. Wiest was on the faculty at the University of Wyoming Fay W. Whitney School of Nursing from 1972 through 2002. A brief history follows.

Elizabeth Wiest: A brief history

A visit to Wyoming in 1972 enticed Wiest to seek employment in the state with which she had fallen in love. Betsy had been a nurse since 1957, having attended a diploma program at the Lancaster General Hospital School of Nursing. She earned a BSN and MS in nursing at the University of Maryland. Her teaching career began at the University of Maryland where she taught medical-surgical nursing for seven years.

At the University of Wyoming, she was the continuing education director.  She concurrently earned an EdD [doctorate in Education] at UW and met her husband [the late Don Wiest]. Her other positions at UW included Director of Off-Campus Nursing Programs, Coordinator of Student Affairs, and Clinical Coordinator for the Undergraduate Program. Betsy was a role model of professionalism through her activities in the American Nurses Association, the Wyoming Nurses Association, the Wyoming Commission for Nursing Education, and Sigma Theta Tau.  She served as an officer in these organizations for many years. Community organizations also found her to be a leader as she chaired several committees in the American Heart Association of Wyoming, the League of Women Voters, and Zonta International. UW benefited from her organizational skills.  Examples of her contributions were service on the Civil Rights Review Board, the Grievance Board, the Continuing Education Approval Committee, Staff Council, and search committees for deans.

Continual involvement in nursing

Following her retirement from the University of Wyoming in 2002, Wiest continued her involvement with the school of nursing by creating the Wiest Nursing Scholarship for non-traditional generic nursing students, “because my own experience made me very conscious of the struggles that non-traditional students have,” said Betsy. “I feel that every little bit of help is good and reduces the strain of being a full-time student.”  She noted that after graduating from her diploma school of nursing, she knew she would need a bachelor’s degree in nursing if she wanted to advance in her career. “Financial support would have been very helpful since I was working as a staff nurse at the same time I was taking courses.” Wiest continued, “It is my hope that all nursing graduates today would participate in life-long continuing education.” Wiest set a prime example. From her diploma school graduation in 1957 to the completion of her doctoral degree in 1980, she noted that she took at least one course every semester. She was fortunate, she says, to have been awarded a full scholarship and stipend to complete her master’s degree. Wiest continued on to doctoral studies since it became necessary to earn her doctorate if she wanted to continue teaching in a school of nursing.  

The endowed Wiest Nursing Scholarship will continue to support non-traditional students at the University of Wyoming in their pursuit of nursing degrees in tribute to this exceptional woman, nurse, teacher, and philanthropist. 

Memorial Service

The family of Betsy Wiest is planning a memorial service for late summer 2013. Please check back for more information. This page will be updated to include specifics.



Elizabeth "Betsy" Wiest

Elizabeth "Betsy" Wiest
Nursing faculty from 1972-2002

Memorial Plans

The memorial service for Dr. Wiest will be held Saturday, July 27, 2013 at 11:15 a.m. in the Wyoming Student Union, Family Room 212, on the University of Wyoming Campus in Laramie.

1000 E. University Ave. Laramie, WY 82071
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