Our friend and neighbor, Megan Christiansen, passed away on October 15th after a two year struggle with pancreatic cancer. Megan was an asset to our neighborhood who readily contributed her time and talents. For many years Megan was the treasurer of CNI. Bert Stitt, past president of CNI, shared, “It was Megan’s astute and dedicated handling of accounts that got CNI on track to fiduciary health and responsibility – no small task! Our bank account looks good today thanks to her.” Megan was a fixture at neighborhood activities. We could always count on Megan’s lively presence at our bi-monthly neighborhood meetings even during her illness. She was involved with many neighborhood projects including organizing neighborhood spring clean ups, participating in the Friends of Crowley Station, and volunteering for the Blair Street Gardens.
I first met Megan over a decade ago about a year after she’d moved from Stoughton to her downtown condo. Megan and I were both members of CNI’s Executive Council, and she had invited me and other members of a committee she chaired to her condo. I’ve since forgotten the purpose of the meeting but two impressions remain, the loom that occupied a good part of her study area and Bixby, her Airedale Terrier, who had taken an amorous liking to me! (Bixby was one of several rescue dogs that Megan saved.) On my way over to her place for that meeting, I was charmed by the First Settlement Neighborhood, and that, along with Megan’s enthusiasm for commuter-free downtown living, planted a seed that later resulted in her neighborhood becoming my home too.
Megan’s interests varied widely from the solitude of reading a good book to the adventures of traveling around the world. Shortly after being diagnosis with cancer, Megan was determined not to let it prevent her from taking a planned culinary trip to Italy exploring the delights of vegetarian cuisine and Italian wines. Megan filled her last two years with many adventures. In addition to Italy, she traveled to France, China, as well as Iceland. I recall her sharing fond memories of island hopping in the Caribbean with her friend, Mark, on a 5-masted tall ship with 44 sails (quite a different experience than taking day trips with Mark on his Harley across the roads of Wisconsin!) Megan was always doing something interesting. Whether it was sorting fabrics in a collection donated to the UW or working at the Gates of Heaven polling station, Megan kept busy.
Megan was a generous and inspirational person. In 2005, when a colleague at work needed a kidney transplant, Megan didn’t think twice about being tested for compatibility. When a test returned an unfavorable result that would have excluded Megan, she insisted the test be redone and the new result was very favorable! Arlene, her kidney recipient, is forever grateful for her life giving donation. I remember how matter-of-factly Megan had told us during the summer of 2005 that she had recently undergone the transplant surgery. I was impressed and wondered if I could do the same. Megan also generously supported local organizations including the Madison Community Foundation (www.madisoncommunityfoundation.org), the Dane County Humane Society (www.giveshelter.org), and the Domestic Abuse Intervention Services (abuseintervention.org).
Megan lived a full life to her last days enjoying all that downtown Madison has to offer, fresh produce from the Dane County Farmers’ Market, artisan cheeses from Fromagination, clever gadgets from the Kitchen Gallery, as well as Concerts on the Square, Jazz at 5, The Madison Symphony and other events at Overture Center. Every year she looked forward to volunteering at Art Fair on the Square. She enjoyed Aquaexercise class at Capitol Lakes, the Bach Dancing and Dynamite Society, the Madison Area Vegetarian Meetup Group and attending Basket Camp near Superior, WI, twice yearly that combined the pleasures of basket weaving and wine tasting.
Others would add that Megan was strong, expressive, organized, intelligent, liberal, modest, kind, and courageous. Megan had a ready smile and a welcoming greeting for all. Megan made our neighborhood and downtown Madison a better place.
Thank you, Megan. We will miss you.