The Passing of Elizabeth Louise Milanesi

Williams staff and faculty,

I write to share the sad news of the passing of Elizabeth Louise “Betty” Milanesi, former assistant to the College Librarian. Betty passed away at her home in North Adams on Wednesday, at the age of 81.

Betty was born in 1937, the daughter of Howard Esmonde and Margaret Mahoney. She graduated from Drury High School in 1954 and married Richard “Dick” Milanesi in 1959. The couple managed several businesses in the real estate and construction industries. Betty then joined the staff of Sawyer Library in fall 1984 as secretary to College Librarian Phyllis Cutler, who later described her as a “Godsend.”

Betty was respected on campus for her wide-ranging knowledge of the library’s operations, complemented by her calm, welcoming and efficient presence. Subsequent directors learned to rely on her heavily, and her role steadily expanded to include helping develop the library budget, supervising personnel matters and coordinating building maintenance. At the time of her retirement in 2006, then-College Librarian Dave Pilachowski described her as “easily the best library administrative assistant I have ever worked with.”

Away from campus, Betty continued to help Dick run the family’s businesses while raising their three children, Maggie, Craig and Peter. She was president of the Investment Club, a communicant of St. Elizabeth of Hungary Church, a board member and treasurer of the North Adams Ambulance Service (now Northern Berkshire EMS), and a board member at the Landmark Credit Union. She was devoted to her family and especially enjoyed spending time with her grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Her survivors include daughter Margaret M. Landy of Adams, and sons, Craig R. Milanesi of Medford, Mass., and Peter J. Milanesi of North Adams; as well as five grandchildren, three great-grandchildren, a close cousin and nieces and nephews. Richard predeceased Betty in 1990, and four brothers are also deceased.

A Liturgy of Christian Burial for Betty Milanesi will be celebrated next Monday, August 5, at 11:00 a.m. at St. Elizabeth of Hungary Church in North Adams. Burial will follow in Southview Cemetery. Calling hours are 9:00 to 10:00 a.m. on Monday at the Flynn and Dagnoli-Montagna Home for Funerals Central Chapel, 74 Marshall Street in North Adams.

Our thoughts are with Betty’s family and friends.

Maud S. Mandel
Professor of History; Program in Jewish Studies