by Ingrid Stabb
Elizabeth Wagele, an author, cartoonist, and musician who popularized a personality typing system called the Enneagram, died on March 27 at her home in Berkeley, California. The cause was neuroendocrine cancer.
Wagele was 77.
Wagele, a first-time author at age 55, was known as one of the first major authors on the Enneagram, as well as for illuminating complex ideas with humor.
In 1993, Wagele and co-author Renee Baron began working with then HarperOne editor, John Loudon, who was instrumental in developing some of the first popular Enneagram authors. Their book, The Enneagram Made Easy (1994), has been translated into 17 languages. Wagele’s other books include Are You My Type, Am I Yours?, also with Baron (1995), The Enneagram of Parenting (1997), The Happy Introvert: A Wild and Crazy Guide for Celebrating Your True Self (2006), Finding the Birthday Cake: Helping Children Raise Their Self-Esteem (2007), The Career Within You: How To Find The Perfect Job For Your Personality with Ingrid Stabb (2009), The Enneagram of Death: Helpful Insights by the 9 Types of People on Grief, Fear, and Dying (2012), and The Enneagram for Teens: Discover Your Personality Type and Celebrate Your True Self (2014). Wagele’s musical recordings include the CDs The Beethoven Enneagram (1999), Enneagram Variations (2006) and Finding the Birthday Cake: Music for Children (2017).
Wagele was born on May 31, 1939, in Salt Lake City, Utah and moved to Berkeley, California at the age of 10. A gifted pianist, she majored in music composition at the University of California, Berkeley, from which she graduated cum laude. She studied piano with Tanya Ury and Bernhard Abramowitsch and composition with Andrew Imbrie.
Her husband, Gus Wagele, an artist and retired teacher in Berkeley, survives her, as do her four adult children – Nick, Martha, Augie, and Miranda – and seven grandchildren.
Other Enneagram experts found that the cartoons in Wagele’s books helped readers understand complex concepts. “It takes genius to boil down to what is obvious in almost everything, but even more so when the subject is as complex as the Enneagram,” Uranio Paes, former president of the International Enneagram Association, said in an interview last week.
Friend and collaborator Mario Sikora, also a former president of the International Enneagram Association, said in an interview last week, “Her impact on the Enneagram community is felt by all, even if many don't fully understand the depth of the impact.”
In her 2012 book, The Enneagram of Death: Helpful Insights by the 9 Types of People on Grief, Fear, and Dying, Wagele pointed out that while there are no universal answers to human questions about death, there are universally common moments to savor and hold onto in life.