37°

Lake Country Weather

  • Log-in Edit profile
  • Register Logout

Advertisement

Wenger, a passionate voice for Town of Lisbon, dies at 71

April 17, 2014

Town of Lisbon — One of the strongest and most-passionate voices for the incorporation of the Town of Lisbon into a village has been silenced.

Citizen activist Denise A. Wenger (nee Gordon), 71, died Friday, April 11. A memorial service and visitation was conducted Thursday, April 17, at the Krause Funeral Home in Brookfield.

"Denise was an individual who cared deeply for her family and community. She worked toward what she thought was right for Lisbon's future when others would not. Her contributions to Lisbon have helped make our community a better place. She will be missed," said Town Chairman Matt Gehrke.

Wenger is survived by Dennis, her husband of 49 years; as well as her sons, David (Christi), Dan (Angie) and Darin (Lisa); eight grandchildren; three brothers and a sister.

"Lord knows, no one could question Denise's passion for the Town of Lisbon, her caring about its future and how much she wanted the town to became a village," said Wendy Landry, a former town supervisor

Wenger, Landry and Robert Williams, former town supervisor and Pauline Haass Library Board president, created Lisbon-inc.com, the citizens group that spearheaded the four-year — ultimately unsuccessful — drive to get state approval for the town to be upgraded to village government status.

"I would describe Denise as a brilliant writer, passionate enthusiast for our community and an elegant and loving friend," said Williams.

Wenger lived with her family on 75 acres of farmland and woods near Swan and Lisbon roads.

She fervently believed that Lisbon's citizens and their elected representatives should determine their community's land-use plans and zoning codes rather than having to rely on approvals from Waukesha County.

The only way to achieve that goal, she thought, was for the town to became a village, which would have its own zoning and land-use authority.

"She loved Lisbon and believed it was a community with distinct characteristics. She believed that residents of any community should have a seat at the table when decisions are being made about their future," said her son Dan.

In addition to helping raise the $25,000 fee required by the state to file the incorporation petition, Wenger researched and wrote much of the voluminous document that outlined the reasons arguing why the town was qualified to became a village

"There may not have been a petition without Denise. She used her journalistic skills as a writer and researcher to write most of it herself rather than we having to hire someone else to do it. It saved us thousands of dollars," Landry explained.

Although town officials endorsed incorporation, the Town Board initially would not endorse or help fund Lisbon-inc's effort. They were concerned about the cost of the project and the unlikelihood that the state would grant the petition.

Some town and state officials were somewhat caught by surprise when Lisbon-inc.com made such a credible presentation at the hearings that the State Review Board became sharply divided over whether to the grant the petition, which was ultimately rejected.

Wenger, born in Chicago but raised in Jackson, Mich., earned a bachelor's degree from the prestigious Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill. She had also earned a master's degree from Northwestern and a doctorate in urban education from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

She met her husband while she was attending Northwestern University. family moved to Lisbon in 1976.

Wenger also served on the Lisbon Plan Commission and Park Board.

This site uses Facebook comments to make it easier for you to contribute. If you see a comment you would like to flag for spam or abuse, click the "x" in the upper right of it. By posting, you agree to our Terms of Use.

Weekend Happenings

Featured this week:  

The Art of the Bicycle: 11 a.m. Nov. 21, 26, Delafield Arts Center, 719 Genesee St., Delafield. Diane Lehman, Peter Kudlata and Wheel & Sprocket. Gallery hours are 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Wednesday through Friday and 11 a.m.-3 p.m. first and third Saturdays and by appointment, Free www.delafieldartscenter.org.

Organ Concert: 1:30 p.m. Nov. 21, St. Jerome Catholic Church, 995 S. Silver Lake St., Oconomowoc. Oconomowoc Music Club is hosting a concert by renowned organist Dr. Simone Gheller. Refreshments will be served after the concert. Free.

Yuletide Faire: 5-9 p.m. Nov. 21; 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Nov. 22, Prairie Hill Waldorf School, N14-W29143 Silvernail Road, Pewaukee. $4 in advance or $5 at the door for adults and $1 in advance or $2 at the door for children under 15. Features strolling minstrels and costumed characters, puppet shows, storytelling, candle dipping, face painting, children’s craft workshops, children’s holiday shopping, live music, silent auction, children’s book sale, natural toys, 35 vendors, warm food, homemade desserts, candies, nuts and other treats. 

Fashionable Tidings Gala Luncheon: 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Nov. 22, Country Springs Hotel, 2810 Golf Road, Pewaukee. Holiday fashions of local clothiers Paul Bruce Goodman and Liebling Leather. Music by Brusubardis String Ensemble. Lunch includes shrimp scamp and angel hair pasta with vegetables provencale. Wine tasting  and auction. Benefits Waukesha Choral Union. $35. Call (414) 297-9310 for tickets. www.choralunion.org.

Updates to this calendar are made weekly Monday afternoon. 

 

All weekend happenings.