Lockport woman known for boundless generosity
By denise Baran-Unland Correspondent January 13, 2013 4:40PM
Updated: February 15, 2013 6:07AM
Generosity knew no boundaries with Helen Bogan, 88, of Lockport. She gave freely of all her resources, without reservation, up to her death on Dec. 28.
Helen consistently tucked dollar bills inside greeting cards and sent those cards to her four children, nine grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren for every major and minor holiday, as well as to show support for a loved one’s job, hobby or cause.
When her youngest grandchild, Michelle Striker of Shorewood, was in college, Helen paid for Michelle’s entire Habitat for Humanity trip. Helen encouraged Michelle’s goal to become an English teacher because Helen, too, had dreamed of teaching.
“Although Gram wasn’t a certified teacher in a school, she taught her descendants how to be gracious, kind, forgiving and optimistic. She loved others unconditionally,” Michelle said. “She was very down to earth and optimistic. She never complained, despite having experienced pain and loss. You never heard a negative word out of her.”
Whenever Helen’s church, St. Dennis Parish in Lockport, needed donations — such as a holiday toy collection — Helen always contributed even if she had to purchase items. She had a three-page list of charities she financially helped, such as St. Jude Children’s Resource Hospital and the National Wildlife Federation.
Helen was not a flashy person, but she did like to have fun. She loved Tigger from Winnie the Pooh and decorated her house with Tigger figurines and accessories. She dressed conservatively (except for her “Tigger” sweatshirts) loved finding bargains and entertained her grandchildren with her upright player piano and a house full of children’s books.
“She always had a great-grandchild or two on her lap, reading to them,” Michelle said. “She bought books for the children all time. The last gift she got for my daughter was ‘The Velveteen Rabbit’ along with the rabbit. She never came empty handed. If we had a birthday party for my son, she’d bring a book for my daughter, too.”
Helen learned generosity from her parents, Irish immigrants who rode a bus to and from their jobs at the freight yards since they never learned to drive, said Tom Bogan of Colorado, Helen’s brother.
During the Depression, Helen’s mother fed passers-by at the back door and kept homemade bread and tea on hand for that purpose. Helen, who loved to write, chronicled her life’s experiences. Many of those stories she published in “Prairie Smoke,” the magazine of the Prairie Smoke writers group at the Homer Township Public Library. Helen was a member of that group.
Her family particularly treasures the post-mortem letter Helen wrote to her older brother Tim, a World War II veteran with consistent lingering health problems from his service, after he unexpectedly died during Helen’s emergency appendectomy. In the letter, Helen thanked her brother for a lifetime of beautiful memories.
Contact Denise M. Baran-Unland
at 815-467-5249 or email@example.com.