Oral History Session #1
Date:January 16, 2020
Place:New Brunswick, NJ
Kathryn Tracy Rizzi
Transcript Production Team:
Kathryn Tracy Rizzi
D'Angelo, Elizabeth. Oral History Interview, January 16, 2020, by Zach Batista and Kathryn Tracy Rizzi, Page #, Rutgers Oral History Archives. Online: Insert URL (Last Accessed: Insert Date).
A native of Texas, Elizabeth "Betsy" Carter D’Angelo is a long-time New Jersey resident who grew up in a military family, went to college in Texas, and spent her career working for the U.S. government overseas and later, while raising her family, the YWCA organization and in higher education.
Ms. D'Angelo was born in Columbus, Texas in 1942. In the interview, she recalls her family's deep-seated roots in Texas, with ancestry tracing back to General Edward Burleson. Her father, a veteran of World War II, Korea and Vietnam, served in the U.S. Air Force. Her mother, a "military wife," organized the family's many relocations when her father was given a new assignment. The eldest of four children, she grew up in towns and on bases in Texas, Connecticut, Oklahoma, Washington, Newfoundland and Germany. From 1957 to 1961, she spent her high school years in Germany, going to schools in Wiesbaden and then Kaiserslautern.
Ms. D'Angelo went to Southwest Texas State College, a public university now known as Texas State University-San Marcos. She studied literature and business and planned on a career as a secretary, one of the career paths available to women at the time. She was a member of Delta Zeta sorority and Angel Flight, the women's auxiliary to Air Force ROTC. After the assassination of President John F. Kennedy on November 22, 1963, she recounts the concern about the condition of Texas Governor John Connally, who was in the same car as Kennedy and was wounded, and the realization that Lyndon B. Johnson, a 1930 graduate of Southwest Texas, had ascended to the presidency.
Recruited by the government while an undergraduate, Ms. D'Angelo briefly worked as a secretary at a bank and then joined the Central Intelligence Agency, once she had obtained security clearance. She worked as a secretary, first in the typing pool in Washington, D.C., and then in the personnel department in the Clandestine Services Department in the Eastern European Division. Returning to Germany in 1966, she worked at the IG Farben Building in Frankfurt and then at the U.S. Embassy in Bonn. While working for the government, she met Nick D'Angelo, her future husband, who had volunteered for the Army during the Vietnam War and had been assigned military guard duty for the CIA. They got married at a chapel at the University of Basel in Switzerland. Both of their parents attended the wedding, with Ms. D'Angelo's parents traveling from Madrid, where her father was stationed at the time, and Mr. D'Angelo's flying to Switzerland and meeting their daughter-in-law for the first time.
Pregnant with her first child, Ms. D'Angelo returned to the U.S. in 1968, and she and her husband settled in Bayonne, New Jersey, where his family resided. They raised their three children in Bayonne. In 1980, Ms. D'Angelo went back to work at the YWCA in Bayonne and spent ten years working at the front desk and in administrative roles. She then worked at Jersey City State College, now Jersey City State University, until her retirement in 2005. In the interview, she describes the community in Bayonne and events on and after September 11, 2001, when the World Trade Center was attacked and her husband and son-in-law were working in New York City. The interview was conducted by Ms. D'Angelo's grandson Zach, along with ROHA assistant director Kate Rizzi.
Photographs: (top) wedding day, Basel, Switzerland, February 27, 1968; (middle) Nicholas D'Angelo, U.S. Army, 1965-1968; (bottom) the military family in 1945, Scott Air Force Base, Illinois