Elizabeth Frances (Revell) Diggins

February 2, 1929 ~ October 12, 2021 (age 92)


Elizabeth Frances Revell Diggins – 1929-2021 Elizabeth Diggins died on October 12, 2021 in Hagerstown, MD, at the Commonwealth Senior Living community, where she had been a resident for five years. She was 92 years old and had lived a full and active life of friendship, caring, and service to everyone who came into her life. Elizabeth, known to many as Betty, was born in Hagerstown on February 2, 1929 – Groundhog Day, or as she preferred to say, “Hedgehog Day.” She lived her early years with her large family of father Carlton Revell, mother Irene Revell, and seven brothers and two sisters, on a farm on Whitehall Road. She graduated from Boonsboro High School in 1945, worked for several years in the diet kitchen of the Washington County Hospital, then enrolled in 1948 in the Washington County Hospital School of Nursing. While a nursing student, she formed strong friendships with her classmates, many of whom became life-long friends. She started her nursing career in the pressure-filled environment of the Emergency Room. She loved the varied nature of the work and she was well-suited there, with her calm, steady demeanor. As her life changed with family and children, she engaged in other nursing roles, including hospital wards, nursing homes, industrial nursing (Mack Trucks), and private duty nursing, often choosing a nursing situation that allowed flexibility to work part-time and be home for her family. Nursing was an important part of her identity and she never stopped being a nurse, even in the weeks before she died, when she would alert Commonwealth staff when she felt other residents needed medical attention. In February 1954, Elizabeth married Daniel Diggins. She met him through her cousin Ray, who brought his friend Dannie along when he was visiting from New York. Elizabeth, who was talking on the phone when they arrived, looked up as they entered and thought “I’m going to marry that man.” She scoffed at the idea, since theirs wasn’t love at first sight, but across the distance they fell in love, beginning 57 years together. They started their married life in New Jersey, where Dannie was a mechanic for the New Jersey State Police. Elizabeth worked in a hospital in Perth Amboy, NJ and they bought their first house at 1 Georgetown Lane, Hazlet, NJ. Over the next six years, they started their family, welcoming three daughters, Susan, Lori, and Danielle. In 1962, Dannie was recalled to active-duty military service and posted to Europe at the time of the Berlin wall build-up. Elizabeth, who was pregnant with baby number four, moved temporarily with her three young daughters back to Hagerstown, to be near family. During the year Dannie was away, Daniel, Jr. was born. When Dannie returned from Europe, the family returned to New Jersey, but soon decided to relocate permanently in the Hagerstown area, where Elizabeth lived the rest of her life. She and Dannie bought a small farm. Elizabeth especially loved the large farmhouse, which served as a base for many parties with extended family, including the annual Thanksgiving potlucks for 60! Elizabeth grew up loving books and words – retirement was a delight because she had so much more time to read. She faithfully watched Jeopardy on television, solved the daily newspaper crossword puzzle, and routinely won at Scrabble. She enjoyed jigsaw puzzles and played endless games of Yahtzee with Dannie and her children and grandchildren. Another constant in Elizabeth’s life was music, a joy and activity she shared with Dannie. She started playing the piano at a young age, and as an adult played for weddings and sang in several community choruses and in church choirs. When she moved to Commonwealth Senior Living in 2016, her piano went along; she was still entertaining staff and residents there with her playing and singing in the months before she died. But most of all, Elizabeth’s life revolved around people. She was committed to her family – her parents, siblings, aunts/uncles and cousins, husband, in-laws, four children, five grandchildren, and four great-grandchildren. She was actively interested in the lives of her grandchildren and nieces and nephews and was a “surrogate” mother and grandmother to other young people, who saw in her a caring figure, always willing to listen and ready to encourage. Her home was open to all family and friends and she was always happy to set another place at the table. She made friends in every place she lived and worked, forming relationships that continued to the end of her life. Her correspondence was extensive and spread across the country. If friends and family moved away, she maintained contact through calls, letters, and cards and she expanded her correspondence to include the children in her circle as they grew up and started independent lives. Throughout her life, she generously shared her time, skills, and resources to help others and she will be missed by everyone who had the privilege of knowing her. Elizabeth was predeceased by her husband, Daniel Diggins (2011), her son-in-law, Ray Johns (2018) and her brothers James, Robert, Joseph, Benjamin, and Daniel (Revell). She is survived by her four children: Susan Johns, Lori Diggins, Danielle Diggins, and Daniel Diggins, Jr. (Cyndi); five grandchildren, Abraham Shellito, Kristen Akin (Kyle), Lance Poffenberger (Mandy), Amy Mitchell (Christopher), and Rachel Matlock (James); four great-grandchildren, Luke Akin, Elizabeth Akin, Matthias Mitchell, and Naomi Mitchell; her sister, Sarah Frey, and brother, Alfred Van Revell (Lindy). The family is planning a small private service. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests a donation to Hospice of Washington County or the Bethel United Methodist Church (Chewsville, MD), where Elizabeth had been a member.

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