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1945 Jeanne 2024

Jeanne L. Bogardus

January 24, 1945 — March 6, 2024


JEANNE L BOGARDUS (January 24, 1945 - March 6, 2024)

Jeanne Louise Bogardus, a truly remarkable woman, passed away unexpectedly at her home in Sheboygan, WI, on March 6, 2024.

Jeanne was born in Springfield, IL, in 1945 to Adam Henry Bogardus and Mae Louise Snodgrass Bogardus. She spent her childhood influenced by the idealism of the Lincoln legends and her family’s belief that music, art, family and friends make life worth living.  The understanding that education occurs through varied and adventurous life experiences was taught by her mother at a young age and permeated her life’s journey. 

Jeanne attended school at Lincoln Elementary and Feitshans High Schools in Springfield, IL. It was here that she first became enamored of writing & publishing poetry, editing school newspapers, singing with the Madrigal choir, and performing in theater.  

Jeanne became the first woman in her family to attend and graduate college.   She graduated from Blackburn College in Carlinville, IL, with an English degree utilizing a work/study program and many scholarships & stipends. Throughout college she continued her involvement with theater and writing, performing in many plays and publishing further essays and poems in the college literary magazine, “The Vortex”.  She then completed graduate school at the University of Michigan Institute of Gerontology with a degree in Psychology. 

Jeanne took on many roles in life, all with the intent of addressing social, political, and racial injustice through the arts.  She was a staunch advocate for single mothers, those with disabilities, and the aging. Throughout her life and long before the women’s liberation movement, Jeanne strove to be a role model to other women. Living life on her own terms, she hoped to show that a single, independent woman could unapologetically pursue whatever dreams, visions, and spiritual/philosophical quests were desired.  As a leader, she ensured that the women around her were fully supported.

Jeanne’s life experiences were extensive and varied: She traveled to most continents of the world with extended stays in India, Nepal, and Italy.   She served as a tour guide in India, an assistant to a violin luthier in Italy, a congressional intern, an ordained minister of the Universal Life Church, an English teacher, a social worker, and an art therapist.  She also took great joy in providing unpaid services as a museum docent, palm-reader, hospice counselor, and jewelry maker. 

Jeanne is perhaps most noted for her work in the arts.  She spent 20+ years as a producer, event coordinator, artistic director, fundraiser, grant writer, and marketing consultant for many non-profit organizations, such as Bread and Roses, Friends of the San Francisco Arts Commission, and City Celebration San Francisco.  Perhaps her proudest moments were in the accomplishments she achieved as Executive Director of the Marin Arts Council in San Rafael, CA. It was over the course of her 19-year career that she developed her love affair with “outsider art” and worked tirelessly to connect community members with these artists and their art.  At the core of her efforts was the belief that the arts were crucial to navigating life’s challenges and that the less fortunate in our world deserved access and recognition.  

Upon retirement, Jeanne sought relocation to a community that could offer her an affordable lifestyle with a vital foundation of art, culture, civic involvement, nature, and generous people willing to embrace newcomers.   Thus, Jeanne began her 15-year love affair with Sheboygan, WI.  She wholeheartedly made the transition to Wisconsin winters by embracing all the community had to offer and making very dear friends on the journey.  

In Sheboygan, Jeanne created a sacred home in which to live out her years. She surrounded herself with her beloved art, books, music, and other collections; all the things that brought her joy. She spent many peaceful moments in this sublime space with herself, family, and friends.   

Jeanne participated in extensive volunteer work with the John Michael Kohler Art Center & Art Preserve in Sheboygan, serving on the arts & literacy planning committee and earning “volunteer of the year” as a docent. In line with her life’s values, Jeanne became an active member of Altrusa International (District 7), serving in various capacities, including board president.

Although awarded many honors over the years, perhaps no one can better speak of Jeanne’s contributions to this world than herself.  Asked to list her strengths, she offered the following: 

“I believe I have the ability to connect seemingly unconnected things; to view problems as challenges and failures as learning experiences.  I have a willingness to engage and mentor people with a respect for and desire to learn from their experiences and knowledge.   I have an enthusiasm for sharing what I have learned based on the belief that we are all really working towards the same ends. I love to build relationships and feel that I have a generous nature.”  

We wholeheartedly agree, dear woman. 

Jeanne was preceded in death by her parents, sister Nancy Grant and brother-in-law Gerald Pete Grant, brothers David H. Bogardus and Michael K. Bogardus, brother-in-law Kenneth Thrasher, sister-in-law Gerri Bogardus, and niece Cindy Phillips.  She is survived by her sister JoAnn Thrasher, brother Rodger (Nikki) Bogardus, and sister-in-law Joyce Bogardus. She embraced her role as ‘Aunt Jeanne’ to her beloved nieces and nephews, who honor and cherish her influential role in their lives: Ed (Maria) Phillips, Marcy Phillips (Marti Eyman), Kent (Amy) Grant, Becky (Mark) Spika, Jeff Bogardus, David (Sheri) Bogardus, Steve (Sara) Bogardus, Todd (Theresa) Bogardus, Eric (Christina) Bogardus, and Ross (Jade) Mason. In addition, she will be greatly missed by her grand and great-grand nieces/nephews and a multitude of very dear friends throughout the world.

Jeanne took a unique view of death blending spiritual, practical, and science-based approaches. She requested that her remains be cremated and her energy allowed to flow freely.  She took great joy in salon style conversations around good food & intriguing people. As such, Jeanne requested that friends and family engage in intimate private dinners and celebrations rather than funeral services. In her words: “I belong to the church of art, music, literature and love. Play some music, tell some stories, and maybe pull up an empty chair for me.”

If you wish to make a gesture of remembrance, Jeanne suggested that donations may be made to the John Michael Kohler Art Center & Art Preserve, Planned Parenthood, ACLU, your local public radio/tv stations, and libraries.  Of course, she would very much respect and appreciate your wish to donate to a charity of your choice. She would also consider acts of kindness, generosity, justice and equality towards others to be the grandest of gestures. 



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