Sue Ellen Bisgaard: A Warm Remembrance
When volunteer Sue Ellen Bisgaard called Dakin her “heart place,” it was clear to anyone who knew her why that was. For over 12 years she put her heart fully into her work at Dakin and contributed countless hours to help both the animals in our care and anyone who needed assistance. She was a greeter, a matchmaker for pets and people, and a caregiver in our kitten ICU, among other duties.
When Sue Ellen unexpectedly passed away earlier this summer, many people were deeply saddened. Her sunshine personality, on display as a greeter every Saturday, uplifted many spirits, as did her typical response to any request for help, “I got this!”
The Georgia native struck up a close friendship with fellow volunteer Mary Dudley, who fondly recalled meeting Sue Ellen while working in our kitten ICU. “There were two things that especially bonded us, of course, our love of cats, and also that we were widows. We talked endlessly about our kitties and our husbands.
“Sue Ellen had an understanding of human nature and had been a therapist for children. I’m sure her calm manner resulted from her background and her gentle southern ways,” Mary noted. “I loved her kindness to friends and strangers alike. She was truly interested in others and didn’t politely listen, she actively listened.”
Diana Fordham recalled meeting Sue Ellen seven years ago when she shifted her volunteer duties from dog walking to being a greeter. “We didn’t share a lot of shifts, but I’d see her in the kitten ICU, and she’d bring one up to the window so I could see how they were doing.” Soon the pair were both working on Saturdays and spent more time together. “I appreciate that we were able to talk about and share the same attitude about Dakin,” said Diana.
Shortly after Sue Ellen passed, a remembrance book was left in the lobby, and volunteers and staff were encouraged to fill it with their thoughts about their friend. Their loving words were a testimony to the unique spirit Sue Ellen had, and how she warmed the hearts of those around her. Here are a few of those tributes:
“What will stick with me the most is her soft but wicked sense of humor and playfulness. I want to be just as playful, silly, loving, and kind as Sue Ellen. She was a wonderful role model for a life well-lived.” – Lauren
“I’ll always remember fondly her smile and hugs. She will not be forgotten as a good friend and lover of animals.” – Louise
“I remember one Saturday we had so many dogs, and I was the only dog walker. We desperately needed clean dishes. Sue Ellen willingly came back (to the cleaning station), figured it out, and said she would help every week now that she knew what to do. She was a lovely person and will be deeply missed.” – Rachel
“Her voice was like a big hug.” - Lorie
“Sue Ellen was like family to me and I was excited to see her every Saturday. Her spirit will live on at Dakin forever.” - Sarah
“When she was here as a greeter, the foyer seemed to have a special light and energy.” - Marianne
All of us at Dakin will fondly remember Sue Ellen for all the good that she brought to this world and to animals. We are grateful for her dedication, and to have known her and had her in our lives. Her passing has been difficult, but her legion of friends and admirers here will carry on and continue to do our best work in her memory. Rest easy, Sue Ellen. “We got this.”