Beth Pfeiffer ’73 lived the credo of giving back with warmth, vision, and savvy. On Dec. 4, 2020, she passed away in her beloved Maine, surrounded by the love of her husband, John, and family. A devoted mother, friend, mentor, successful entrepreneur, lovely artist, and grateful Wellesley trustee emerita, Beth will be deeply missed and never forgotten.
She valued her trustee service for friendships and learning and had great respect for the complexity of higher education. President Emerita Diana Chapman Walsh ’66 notes, “Beth was a powerhouse, … influential in our decisions. She brought a special blend of analytic rigor and emotional intelligence … her beautiful gifts of the heart and spirit opened us all to wider possibilities. And … fun.”
Together with Sue Marley Newhouse ’55 and Betsy Wood Knapp ’64, Beth co-chaired the Wellesley Comprehensive Campaign through its record-setting $472 million closeout in 2006. She headed the trustees’ Governance Committee and National Development and Outreach Council and worked on a 2011 task force regarding the future of the Wellesley Centers for Women.
The board was one of many commitments Beth took on, as she ever appreciated the difference Wellesley made for her and for her mother, Elizabeth “Betsey” Reid Pfeiffer ’42. She headed the Boston alumnae club, served as reunion class dinner chair, and was ’73 class president for five years. Most recently, she enthusiastically co-chaired her class’s 45th reunion.
Beth’s mother spoke often of her happy Wellesley years. When circumstances left her a single mom raising three children in rural California, she thanked Wellesley for her confidence to pursue teaching. A bright spot each year was driving cross country to the coast of Maine, where Betsey’s family spent summers.
Beth’s successful professional profile included First National Bank of Boston, a Harvard M.B.A., and the creation of Gamewright, makers of family-oriented card and board games. Sold in 1999, the company still thrives. Creativity was a hallmark of her life. While a trustee, she enrolled in and became a beloved member of Wellesley studio art classes, studying printmaking, painting, and book arts. Woodblock prints became Beth’s main art medium.
She used her talents to inspire others to seek beauty, goodness, and purpose in their lives. Her philanthropy spanned education, libraries, and the arts. Anne Hawley, director emerita of the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, praised Beth, who served as a trustee there for 12 years, for her “penetrating intellect” and her “graciousness in leadership.”
At Wellesley, Beth’s thoughtful generosity reaches far. Helping students in need was key to her. She endowed a scholarship fund in memory of her mother and a financial aid fund. Each year, she invited student recipients for dinner and conversation. She saw the urgent need for renovations to the art facilities in Pendleton West, galvanized trustee support for the project, and herself funded the creation of the Dactyl Press space for printmaking, opened in 2017.
Beth felt so lucky to find her John, and adored her active outdoor life and travels with family and friends. Beth’s kindness, courage, smile, and zest for life will long inspire those lucky to know her, as her legacy at Wellesley will long inspire the whole community.