Elizabeth Trapnell

Elizabeth Trapnell
Elizabeth Trapnell (Baltimore Sun)

Elizabeth Flannery Trapnell, a founding member of the Spotlighters Theatre company, who had been wardrobe mistress at the old Painters Mill Music Fair, died of cancer Monday at her Manassas, Va., home. The former Roland Park resident was 93.

Elizabeth Florence Rich was born in Perryville, the daughter of Charles Rich and Edwina Richardson Rich. She lived near Bon Secours Hospital in West Baltimore and was a 1939 graduate of Western High School. She won a scholarship to the Maryland Institute College of Art and studied drawing and painting with Hans Schuler.


In 1942, she married Collins Arthur Flannery, the 1934 South Atlantic heavyweight boxing champion. After living in Norfolk, Va., and New York City, the couple returned to Baltimore and lived on Calvert Street in Charles Village. Mr. Flannery died in an automobile accident in 1950.

To support her family, she worked at the Belvedere Hotel and Johns Hopkins Hospital. She also was a substitute teacher at Chinquapin Middle School. For several summers in the 1960s, she was wardrobe mistress at Painters Mill in Owings Mills.

Using Liz Rich as her stage name, she both directed and performed in the melodrama "The Drunkard" at the Four Corners Theatre in Jacksonville.

She was an original member of the Spotlighters troupe at the Madison Apartments on St. Paul Street in Mount Vernon. She hosted the 1962 cast party for its premiere play, "Bus Stop," at her home on Wyndhurst Avenue. She later lived on Overlook Place near Lake Avenue. In 1963, she appeared in "Picnic," also with the company, which is now known as the Audrey Herman Spotlighters Theatre.

"She was one of its pillars," said her daughter, Agnes Collins Flannery of Walnut Creek, Calif. "She acted or directed and worked behind the scenes."

She went on to appear in the Spotlighters' "A Man for All Seasons." In 1964, she appeared in the Baltimore Actors' Theatre production of "Tom Sawyer" at the Peabody Concert Hall.

In 1968, she wrote "Little Nell," a musical melodrama, with Ed Kellogg and Marilyn Lee. The work was performed at the Baltimore Cabaret Theater in the lobby of the Congress Hotel on West Franklin Street. She later performed it at a Rehoboth Beach, Del., summer theater.

In 1955, she married Franklin Waters "Buck" Trapnell Jr., an Army colonel and tank specialist who ran the Johns Hopkins University Reserve Officers Training Program.

"She easily made lasting friendships," said her son, Michael Flannery of Baltimore. "She befriended Peabody students who came to paint her house. They later became lifetime family members. She knew people from the theater or her walking organizations, and military wives. Even Hopkins students who had been in the ROTC classes visited until her death. As her children, we felt we were special because of who our mother was."

"Wherever their military assignments took them, my mother never complained," said another daughter, Emily Marilla Trapnell Coryell of Manassas. "She told me she always found the best thing she could about a place and enjoyed it."

Mrs. Trapnell enjoyed history and was a volunteer and docent for the Baltimore Museum of Art. When her husband was on assignment in Georgia, she became a volunteer at the William Scarbrough House in Savannah. She belonged to Volksmarch walking clubs, including the Baltimore Star-Spangled Steppers.

Her son said she was an accomplished cook and owned a rolling pin that had belonged to her great-grandfather, who was a pastry chef in Lyon, France.

She was a former member of SS. Philip and James Roman Catholic Church.

A memorial service will be held at 1:30 p.m. Sunday at Trinity Episcopal Church, 9325 West St. in Manassas. Graveside services will be held at noon Monday at Dulaney Valley Memorial Gardens, 200 E. Padonia Road, Timonium.


In addition to her son and daughters, survivors include another daughter, Colise Gerard Flannery Medved of Washington, D.C.; a brother, Charles Lee Rich of Kenosha, Wis.; eight grandchildren; and seven great-grandchildren. Colonel Trapnell died last year.