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Elizabeth Argo


1922 - 2016 Obituary Condolences Gallery
Elizabeth Argo Obituary
Curtain call for local theaters leading lady, Betsy Argo. At 93, the founder and director of Orleans Arena Theater (now the Academy Playhouse) has taken her final bow. Unique, inventive and spirited, Betsy was destined to leave an indelible mark on our community. Born Elizabeth Brunk on July 22, 1922 in Richmond VA, Betsy graduated from Converse College. Her work as a young journalist carried her to Chapel Hill, NC, where she met Gordon Argo. In 1949 Gordon was hired by a small theater in Brewster, and the newlyweds moved to Cape Cod. When the theater disbanded, the couple began searching for a place to house a theater of their own. In 1951 the Orleans town selectmen offered to rent the second floor of the old Town Hall to the Argos for $100 a summer. When the town moved its offices, Betsy managed to raise the funds to purchase the old Town Hall. With blood, sweat and tears, the Orleans Arena Theater was born. Each summer a small resident company produced 10 plays. The actors came from all over, some established but most notyet. As producer, publicist, director and at times, leading lady, Betsy helped nurture new talent and gave veteran actors a place to work out. Live theater quickly became a vital part of summer life in Orleans. Her marriage to Gordon ended in 1963, but this single mother of three continued to run the theater each summer. During the winters she often held three jobs, running a nursery school, teaching high school drama | even driving a school bus. Amidst it all, she returned to school to earn a Masters degree. For nearly a decade, she taught at the Wheeler School in Providence, RI, and then at Roger Williams University in Bristol, RI, where she ran their study abroad program, taking drama students to London each winter. She was also a founding member of Trinity Repertory Theater in Providence. Her boundless energy, ingenuity and determination have been an inspiration to both young and old. The Orleans theater still stands on the hill overlooking Main Street, a lasting reminder of her creativity and commitment to a community she loved. With a great wit and relentless optimism, Betsy Argo managed to overcome nearly every obstacle, but on February 23rd, 2016 she succumbed to cancer. Surrounded by her children, she passed away peacefully in the family home, on the hill above her beloved theater. She will live on as a local legend and an inspiration to all. She is survived by children Liz, Allison and Walter Argo and their spouses George Babcock, Jim Holland and Kathleen Argo. She is also survived by her grandchildren John and Lacy Clark, and Tony and Robyn Argo. In place of flowers, Betsy asks to remember those in need. Please consider a donation to the Lower Cape Outreach Council. A memorial service will be held this spring to celebrate her remarkable life. For online condolences, please visit www.nickerson funerals.com.
Published in The Cape Codder from Mar. 1 to Mar. 11, 2016
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