Cover photo for Lorraine Elsie Berigan's Obituary
Lorraine Elsie Berigan Profile Photo
1920 Lorraine 2014

Lorraine Elsie Berigan

July 9, 1920 — September 21, 2014

Madison: Lorraine Elsie (Pfister) Berigan was born on July 9th, 1920, and died on September 21st, 2014.

As a baby, she came home from the hospital to (what her children later called) "Grandpa's Hill." The Pfister farm was located atop a prominent overlook of the city. In the 1960's, the Air Force forced the sale of part of the farm. After her parents died, Lorraine negotiated a deal with the City of Madison to preserve the farm from development, protecting the spring trillium displays there, because the space was so dear to her and our whole family. That park is now known as Hiestand Park.

Lorraine's childhood home was on Oakridge Avenue. She attended Lowell Elementary, and East High. She was proud to have been valedictorian of her 1937 graduating class. At the end of her senior year, she met her husband, Robert E. Berigan, Jr. She went to work for the Madison Board of Education, at Lapham Elementary School. She was proficient in shorthand and continued to use it long after anyone knew what shorthand was anymore!

Lorraine and Bob married in 1942 and moved to Beloit where Bob worked for the U.S. Employment Service, and Lorraine worked for the Office of Price Administration (war rationing). After their first two kids were born, they returned to the city that meant so much to both of them. They bought their first house on Burbank Place on the west side of Madison. Two more kids were born. Bob started work at Wisconsin AAA as Personnel Manager. They eventually moved to North Meadow Lane, where three more kids were born. Lorraine had her hands full, raising 7 kids.

She passed on her musical ability to a few of us (she had "perfect pitch"), wrote a few songs, and only stopped playing piano when she couldn't do it anymore. She and Bob loved reading (particularly about history), and turned most of us into voracious readers with weekly family trips to the Madison Public Library. She loved to learn, and audited courses at the UW so that she could absorb all that that resource had to offer.

Her belief in social justice was strong, and she was proud to have come from a family with Democratic/Socialist beliefs. She made a point of turning away from conventional religious institutions, being the driving force behind our family joining the alternative "Community" church that met at Queen of Peace. She and Bob volunteered with Meals on Wheels, and were involved with Progressive Dane and the Epilepsy Foundation.

Eventually, the family moved to Hill Farm. Later, Lorraine and Bob moved to a condo on the far west side. Having (deliberately) never learned to drive, Lorraine was quite content to walk, bus or bicycle anywhere she needed to go, when Bob wasn't available to drive her. She played volleyball regularly with a group of friends, to keep in shape.

After Bob's death in 1999, Lorraine moved to Independent Living on Segoe Road. She made good friends there, but later moved to a nice apartment at Karen Arms so she could stay in that area of Hilldale that was convenient and familiar. She loved that place and thrived there, enjoying living alone and being active in her neighborhood. There, she continued to build on her small circle of friends.

It was while walking to Hilldale to grocery shop that she suffered her first stroke (at the age 85). The stroke ended her days of independence and mobility - she retained both, to a degree, for some time. Eventually, the stroke took its toll and she moved to Oakwood Village West. She lived there, enjoying the activities available to her, but hating that she couldn't be independent, anymore, until the day that she died.

She was preceded in death by her husband Bob, her parents (Laurence and Bernhardine Vahlen Pfister), and her sister Marilyn Bultman. She has left behind her younger sister Dorothy, her seven kids (Judy, Linda, Nick, Molly, Matt, Kate and Martha), and many grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and her nieces and nephews.

Lorraine wanted no service, only to have her life celebrated in some way. Lorraine will be cremated and buried next to Bob, in Forest Hill Cemetery. To honor her, please listen to "Imagine," by John Lennon -- it was one of her favorites.

For more details on Lorraine's life, please visit:

Lorraine's family would like to thank the staff at Oakwood Village West (especially those at Hebron Oaks), at Agrace Hospice, and all of her healthcare providers for their patient, kind, and understanding care of our mom, and their dedication to their often difficult jobs.
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