On Sept. 16, longtime Wilton resident Lisa Bogan passed away after a prolonged battle with breast cancer. A devoted mother to her son, Doug, 24, and loving spouse to Scott, Lisa was a life-long volunteer and organizer who served Wilton’s schools, children and parks with passion and dedication for more than two decades. She was 60.
Lisa embodied the spirit of service and generosity, devoting much of her life to supporting friends, Wilton’s children, various education institutions and her church. During the 26 years in which she resided in Wilton, she served on many boards and committees–all in support of Wilton’s children. She served on the Wilton Board of Education, spending four years as its vice chairperson; she was the Wilton Little League Baseball and Softball administrator for 13 years; a founding member of the Wilton Education Foundation, she served as its president for five years where she dedicated special attention to Spelling Bees, Read-Aloud Day, Career Day, and Community Conversations that focused on consensus building to effect positive change.
Mrs. Bogan also dedicated 14 years volunteering for the League of Women Voters, where she was a National School Start Time advocate and expert. She gave generously of her time to the Wilton Public Schools and the Wilton YMCA Board of Directors, where she served for 12 years as a member and three years as president. She also founded Lead With Action, LLC, a Community Conversation organization for college campus students to identify substantive issues and effect change. She was a long-standing and active member of her church, First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Wilton, and for five years, she served on the Board of the Norwalk River Valley Trail (NRVT).
We sat down with Lisa’s son, Doug, to get a fuller picture of who his mom was, and he lovingly painted an amazing picture of someone who helped continue to set the standard giving selflessly to Wilton. A member of the WHS class of 2009, he graduated college in 2013, and after an internship abroad in Europe, Doug moved back to work in Norwalk and he has been living at home. “I wouldn’t have traded that for anything. I love living at home with my parents. I’m an only child and so we’re very close,” he says.
by Doug Bogan, as told to GOOD Morning Wilton
Over the last six years or so, my relationship with my mom became more of friends. We’ve always been such close friends but working on some things together it felt more like she was a peer. I still respected them completely as my parents, always. But we have so many similar interests that the relationship really changed.
When I was in middle school, my mom started a series called Community Conversations. They went for probably four years here in Wilton. The crux of it was getting community members together to discuss issues that the community faces, but then to enact action steps. So it’s not just talking about the problems but solving them. The model was created by the League of Women voters, and my mom was very involved both at the local and state level.
She hosted a couple Community Conversations in Wilton and then she and I said this could easily be applicable to high school kids. So when I was in high school, she was our advisor and she and I led two of them for Wilton High School. Then we took the model to the high school in the town where I went to college. I went to Bucknell and she went to Bucknell as well. We did 4-6 for the school there and attendance was probably a few hundred [kids] at each one. They were massive.
My parents have always treated me like an adult. I spent so much time with my mom growing up. My mom quit corporate America six months before I was born to spend her entire life being there for her son. She went into banking and finished her career at FactSet. She was doing training, and what she absolutely loved up until the very end was training people and especially working with kids. She’d always reason with me, and say, ‘We could do this after we do this.’ And she’d always say, ‘Deal?’ and I’d say, ‘Deal.’ There was always this grown up relationship–I had a presence and she valued my opinion, and I valued hers.
One of the biggest thing she modeled for so many people in this community was what it means to be a selfless volunteer. I noticed that in middle school. I said, ‘You’re always doing all these things, it never feels too much and you’re always smiling.’ She would say, ‘It feels really good.’ She got a lot of people in this town into it.’
The common themes were community and kids. She was such a child at heart. You could see it so clearly–always smiling. She had the best sense of humor. She’d say to me, ‘I just feel like a grown up kid.’ She could connect with kids so easily, it was so natural for her.
Little League–she’s a diehard baseball fan. With the League of Women Voters, she did this whole sleep impact study and became the expert [which helped shape Wilton’s change of school start times for older students and has become the model for other schools around the country to switch]. She got her last call a couple months ago from a school district in Illinois. She and Louise Herot were spearheading it. She loved that project and the fact that the town voted in favor of it was so cool.
I started Bucknell in 2009, and she was the class of 1978. She wasn’t the reason I went there–but it was a perfect fit academically and it became a perfect fit for me culturally. When I started there she rediscovered the school and it rekindled her love for the school. She and I co-taught a leadership program that got freshman who signed up academic credit. She was working with kids again, and loved working with kids.
In terms of community, the Wilton Y was her absolute love. She was chairman of the board for four years, on the board since 2000 I think, 15 years. She love, love, loved the Y. The Board of Education too–the big project she did was the renovation of the football stadium. It was an incredible experience for all of us.
Nearest and dearest to both of our hearts is our church–we’re members of the Christian Science Church here in Wilton. She and I were a total duo there. She was a Sunday School teacher and I’m superintendent of our Sunday School, and she was the queen of House and Grounds–she was always over there for a blown boiler or repainting.
And NRVT. She and Pat Sesto, that was their baby. The ribbon cuttings for the Eagle Scout projects, the planning and conceptualization of that. She was at the forefront.
GMW: The variety and breadth of what she left as a legacy in incredible! She changed the course of the town in so many different ways. She gave you a path, she gave the town a literal path with the NRVT, but also a figurative path for the town in so many different areas. Not many people do half of that in an unfortunately too short a period of time.
Doug: And the way she did it was equally important. She never had self-serving motives. She was never in it for herself. She was in it for kids, for the community, because she loves this town and the people in this town. She always did it in such a relaxed way. She’s soft-spoken, a little shy, always smiling, and a tender human being. So humble, just so humble. It was her calling, and a beautiful thing. All that, and she did sleep [laughs] and she raised a kid through all that, and she was a loyal wife.
I want people who knew my mom to take time and think about what my mom is, and that’s never going to change. She was what she was to different people, different. That won’t change. To me, she was, is and always will be my absolute best friend, and that’s not going to change. She’s a rock-solid person, so committed to her family. I was looking for photos for the memorial service program, and I can’t find photos of just her. It’s always with my dad and me. She just loved her family so, so much.
Her humility, her tenderness, her intelligence, she’s so good at being a friend. So thoughtful, just the best. I would ask people to remember those qualities and how she impacted their lives.
Memorial services will celebrate Lisa Bogan’s life on Saturday, Oct. 8 at 2 p.m. at the Wilton Congregational Church (70 Ridgefield Rd). Members of the Wilton community are welcome to attend. The family asks that any donations in Elizabeth Morrison Bogan’s memory be made to the Elizabeth Morrison Bogan scholarship fund for music study.