Thursday, June 24, 2021


Elizabeth ‘Betsy’ Farnum Haigis


Elizabeth “Betsy” Farnum Haigis passed away peacefully on Feb. 8 at the age of 82 after struggling with a debilitating illness. Betsy was a long-time resident of Madison and more recently of Essex.

Betsy was born in 1938 to parents John Earle Farnum and Elizabeth Prescott Farnum of Wellesley, Massachusetts. Her childhood passions included drawing and figure skating. She attended the Dana Hall School before graduating with a degree in art from Skidmore College. After college, she lived in Cambridge, Massachusetts and worked as a draftsperson at the Architects Collaborative under the renowned architect Walter Gropius.

In 1962, Betsy married Barry Steele Haigis. They made a lovely home in Madison, where they brought up their three sons, Bradford, John, and David. During this time, Betsy worked part-time as an architectural draftsperson for Dolph’s Drafting and Design and took on many freelance jobs.

Betsy studied watercolor in the 1980s, primarily with Lou Bonamarte of Lyme Art Association. Because of her architectural interests, buildings became her primary focus. She was particularly skilled at capturing fine details of wood, brick, and stone in traditional New England settings. Her photorealistic technique won her many awards on the Connecticut shoreline as well as at the Connecticut and the New England Watercolor societies. Among her many prizes were the 2013 Madison Art Society Juror’s Award and the Popular Award for her watercolor painting Ogunquit Celebration in the 38th annual Member Art Exhibition. Painting was a source of immense pleasure, humble pride, and close friendships.

Aside from painting, Betsy enjoyed walking, gardening, knitting, bird watching, reading, doing crossword puzzles, and playing bocce. She loved the company of friends at her weekly Scrabble and painting groups. For more than 20 years, she and Barry enjoyed their annual New Year’s Eve dinner party with best friends and good cheer. In addition to her hobbies, Betsy was a dedicated volunteer for ABC Act II Thrift Store, Madison Community Services, and Madison Art Society.

Above all, Betsy valued her time with family. She enjoyed breakfasts at the beach, concerts on the green, and watching her grandchildren grow up. Time with her children was especially cherished. Summers at Pearly Pond were among their happiest family memories. She will be greatly missed.

Elizabeth was predeceased by her father, mother, and brother, David Prescott Farnum. Her husband of 52 years, Barry Haigis, passed away in 2014. She leaves behind her beloved children, Brad Haigis (Dewi) of Acton, Massachusetts, John Haigis (Alison) of Tolland, and David Haigis (Ann) of Killingworth, and grandchildren Jackson, Mathew, Nina, Maya, Jessica, and Spencer.

One of Betsy’s final wishes was to express her heartfelt gratitude to her daughter in-law, Ann Haigis, who gave herself lovingly, willingly, and with tender care during her final months. “I never would have been able to last this long without her,” she praised.

Burial in West Cemetery in Madison will be private. A celebration of life will be held sometime in the future TBD. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to Madison ABC ( and Hole in the Wall Gang Camp (

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