Getting to Know You: Bitsy Wagman

a column dedicated to the folks in the pews

Written by Dale Buchanan

Our pew person this week is Bitsy Wagman. I am sure that most of you have met this friendly, smiling woman if you have been at Big Red more than two or three times.  When I first showed up at the church two years ago, she was one of the first folks to make me feel welcome.

She introduced herself as Bitsy, and being an addicted name-a-holic, I have been consumed with curiosity every since that first introduction. So when we sat down to talk my very first question was, “How did you get your name?” Her response was, “I was born tiny.” My thought was, “Well, you never got over that!” It seems there was a cousin who pronounced her given name “Bitsybuth,” and this wee Minnesota baby became Bitsy instead of Elizabeth.  

Her family, like so many Midwestern families, migrated to Southern California when she was two years old. Dad was an accountant, and Mom a teacher.  

Everything was just going along as expected. I asked the questions and she graciously answered. Then at some point in our interview, Bitsy asked the question, “Dale, you know that Lew and I had an arranged marriage, don’t you?” That got my attention! I could only answer, “No, tell me.” I squeezed my pen and started writing:

“Mom managed the apartment complex where we lived in addition to teaching school.  One fine day a young man from Pennsylvania rented an apartment. I am sure you have guessed it was Lew. My mother and all of her friends began to plot. I was marrying age and Lew was a fine young man who needed a wife. LEW NEVER HAD A CHANCE!  Mom and her friends found every way in the world to arrange our courtship. We were married, as they planned, and it has worked out very well.”

Realizing that I had lost control, I just sat back and tried to get it down as Bitsy smoothly moved to her 36 years as a teacher. It was at this point in her narrative that she revealed her passion. I tried to interrupt her with my vision of this piece, and she sweetly replied, “That is all well and good, Dale, but my passion, my story, my justification, my life is all about teaching—teaching school-aged parents.”  

This fledgling reporter closed his notebook and just listened. Physically a tiny bit of a woman, BITSY HAS THE LOVING, GIANT HEART OF AN ANGEL.

Dale Buchanan is a member of FCCF with a passion for stories and writing. In between penning his own memoirs, he is helping us get to know our members, one pew at a time. 

Comments(6)

  1. Patsy Finster says

    Thank you Dale, Bitsy is indeed a jewel in our congregation. Dale someone needs to tell us about you! Patsy

  2. Kymberly S Lindsey says

    I am also a Bitsy fan. She brings so much joy to my heart.
    I am going to sit down with Dale and write his story. It will definitely be a fun and heartwarming experience. Can’t wait. Hopefully before camp in July.

  3. Dale Buchanan says

    Thank you kindly Patsy. However, my role from the pews is to chronicle not be chronicled. (:-)

  4. Dennis E. Freeman says

    Thank you so much Dale for your time and effort in interviewing different people each week so we may have the opportunity to know a little more about these individuals. Just a suggestion, it would be great to have a picture of the individual you’re interviewing, so one could put a face to your informative information. Only if agreeable to party being interviewed.

  5. Maria-Louise stracke says

    Is that all? I am Bitsys sister (by marriage) I wish she were at my church in Chicago. There’s so much more to her! She and Lew were meant for each other.

    • Kim Williams says

      It definitely poses a challenge for our biographer Dale to paint a complete picture of our incredible members in the 500-700ish word count parameters he’s working with. You’re right, Bitsy is amazing and we could write an entire novel about just the great things she’s done here in our church! We are very lucky to share a pew with her and Lew!

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