Elizabeth Hanrahan in 2016 with some of the items she used in her Outdoor Classroom sessions on the island environment. Photo: C. Leinbach

Elizabeth Longley Hanrahan, 73, died Sunday (May 20) at her Ocracoke home.

She was the wife of Dr. Calvin Hanrahan, the island physical therapist.

Elizabeth was the island’s volunteer, certified wildlife rehabilitator and environmental educator. Islanders and visitors frequently saw Elizabeth capturing sick and injured wildlife which she nursed back to health at her home.

Health issues prompted her retirement in October.

Elizabeth was raised Catholic and saw wildlife and environmental care as her mission. She never sought recognition or awards though she received many.  Helping wildlife had been a passion for Hanrahan since the mid-1980s when she began volunteering at her local humane society in Gainesville, Ga., years ago where she was a vocational education teacher. 

Born in Cleveland, Ohio, on July 25, 1944, she was a daughter of the late Madge Longley, R.N., and L. Philip Longley, M.D.

After earning degrees from Marjorie Webster, Jr. College, Washington, D.C., the Fashion Institute of Technology, New York City, NY, and Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, Va., Elizabeth continued her education by earning her graduate degree at the University of Georgia, Athens, Ga.

An educator, she taught at Brenau College and Johnson High School in Gainesville, Ga., and New Bern High School in New Bern, before moving to Ocracoke.

In every city she lived, Elizabeth served on various community and civic boards.

She served as president of the North Carolina Wildlife Rehabilitators for two terms, and she was a board member of the National Wildlife Rehabilitators.

While living in Gainesville, Ga., she served as president of the Humane Society, president of the League of Women Voters and president of Theater Wings.

She was a lifetime member of the Ocracoke Preservation Society, and after moving here she became a member of the Ocracoke Foundation for which she conducted free summer classes about the island environment.

In addition to her husband of 50 years, Elizabeth is survived by two sons, Brian Hanrahan of Indiana, and Hahn Hanrahan of China; and one grandson, Avery.

A celebration of Elizabeth’s life will be held at a later date.

Twiford Funeral Home, Manteo is assisting the family with arrangements. Condolences may be expressed at www.TwifordFH.com.



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  1. Ms Elizabeth was a Lady with so much talent and passion. Ocracoke is a better place for the footprint she left.

  2. Oh how sad! My husband and I enjoyed the sessions we attended which Elizabeth gave at NCCAT. Her passion and knowledge of wildlife was very evident. She will be missed. Condolences to her husband and family.

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