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Elizabeth Wood Knapp


1943 - 2017 Obituary Condolences Gallery
Elizabeth Wood Knapp Obituary
March 3, 1943 - June 20, 2017 Elizabeth Wood Knapp, a pioneer in online interactive computer software, angel investor, and philanthropist, passed peacefully in her home in Edwards, Colorado, with her husband Bud by her side. She was 74. In the late 1960s, after graduating from Wellesley College with a BA in Economics, Betsy began her entrepreneurial career working at the Sloan School of Management at MIT, a position which became the launching pad to her leadership in the computer industry. Soon after, she became a founding member and then president of Telmar Communications Corp., a New York City-based company that pioneered online interactive computer access to consumer behavior data bases, and decision support systems for the media and advertising industries. An accomplished system designer and programmer, Betsy led the creation of Telmar's operating system and interactive business software.  After marrying Bud Knapp and moving to Los Angeles in 1979, Betsy was the Senior Vice President and Director of Knapp Communications, the Los Angeles-based owner and publisher of Architectural Digest, Bon Appétit, and other magazines and books by The Knapp Press where she was responsible for the company's transition to interactive computer technology and the creation of electronic media products. In 1986, she founded Wood Knapp & Co. to produce and distribute quality special-interest home video programming, and Wood Knapp Direct, a direct marketer with an annual circulation of 5-million catalogues. As a producer of original video programming, Betsy and her company created award-winning shows with Angela Lansbury, Rita Moreno and others. Betsy was also the founder and chief executive officer of BigPicture Investors LLC, which provides investment capital, management expertise and consulting to startups and early-stage companies, focusing on core technologies in a variety of industries. In the mid-1990s, to follow her passion for new business creation, Betsy became actively involved in investing in new technology start-ups.   A proud alumnus of Wellesley College, Betsy carried with her the perspectives and experiences that so define a "Wellesley woman" into her career as a businesswoman, a leader and a philanthropist. In Los Angeles, Betsy's involvement with UCLA led to her appointment as the first woman to chair the UCLA Foundation, a $1billion+ fund which manages private donations for the benefit of the public university. At the time of her death, she served on the Board of the UCLA Technology Development Group which oversees university intellectual property, licensing, and industry-sponsored research. She also served on the Board of Advisors of UCLA Anderson Graduate School of Management. The Knapp Foundation, established in 1993 to make grants in education, medical research and the visual arts, continues to direct much of its focus on Wellesley College and the UCLA Anderson School of Management, where the endowed Betsy Wood Knapp Professorship in Innovation and Creativity and the Knapp Venture Competition for excellence in business planning and venture initiation continue to reflect that vision. Betsy was a founding member and Trustee of the Committee of 200, a by-invitation association of women entrepreneurs and corporate executives, of the Wellesley College Business Leadership Council, and The Trusteeship. She was also a member of Women Corporate Directors and the International Women's Forum. As a Trustee of Wellesley College, she successfully co-chaired a $400 million comprehensive campaign from 2000-2005. Provost and Dean of Wellesley College Andrew Shennan recalls working with Betsy for twenty years. "Never have I encountered a more creative, daring, or loyal Trustee." In the 1980s, the Knapps fell in love with the Vail Valley through their many ski trips. They purchased a condominium in Vail, and later settled on the land in Edwards, Colorado that is now Knapp Ranch. Together, the Knapps conceived and built the ranch as an informal country retreat where "being connected" centers on enjoying the richness of nature and the camaraderie of friends in an extraordinarily quiet and un-hurried setting. The Knapps moved permanently from Bel Air, California to the Knapp Ranch in 2013 allowing Betsy to intimately engage in preserving the natural beauty and health of the land. She had a deep passion for incorporating rigorous scientific research in all the decisions made around land use and land management on the ranch saying, "What we do here reflects our values and personal preferences, and our interest in linking science with the way we make decisions about the future." Betsy devoted herself to the creation of a high altitude organic farming project at the ranch and her enthusiasm to grow clean, delicious food under Mother Nature's guidance was truly infectious. In addition to her husband Bud, Betsy is survived by her brother James Wood (Jean) of West Newton, Massachusetts; her sister, Charlotte Wood Wheeler (Pierce) of Tenafly, New Jersey; stepsons Brian of Charlotte, North Carolina and Aaron (Maureen) of Torrance, California; and stepdaughter Laura of Sherman Oaks, California. She is also survived by five grandchildren, Madelyn of Madison, Wisconsin; Matthias of Milwaukee, Wisconsin; Caroline and Joshua of Rancho Palos Verdes, California and Everett of Cold Spring, New York. In lieu of flowers, the family has requested that donations be made in memory of Elizabeth Wood Knapp to The Cholangiocarcinoma Foundation at www.cholangiocarcinoma.org. Stories can be shared and tributes made at http://www.elizabethwoodknapp.co/.
Published in the Los Angeles Times from June 29 to June 30, 2017
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