Lisa Bogardus

By Ed Jones for the April, 2008 The St. Georgian

The next time you marvel at the harmonious peals of the St. George’s Bell Choir, with nary a note out of order, keep in mind that the conductor is a retired lieutenant colonel from the Air Force Reserves.

Surprised? Undoubtedly so were some of Lisa Bogardus’ friends back in upstate New York when the 20-something French teacher decided to pack her bags and head to Lackland Air Force Base in Texas for officer training.

It was a leap that has paid off—for Lisa and for St. George’s.

For starters, the Air Force brought Lisa together with her future husband, Hurley.  The married lieutenants served together on active duty until Lisa opted for the reserves while raising their three children.

The trio has turned out well.  Ashley, 22, a senior at James Madison University, plays the French horn, sometimes with the brass ensemble.  Amy, 26, helps out with the nursery at St. George’s.  Paul, 27, lives in Oregon.

The military turned out to be a good fit for Lisa for other reasons too.  It allowed her to escape a teaching profession in small-town New York that was anything but reliable in the late 1970s.  Layoffs were commonplace.  At one time, she was teaching French, Spanish and English.

The Air Force also gave Lisa a chance to prove her mettle at a time when women officers were far less common than they are today.  Not bad for a young woman from Seneca Falls, N.Y.—the birthplace of women’s rights.

 With both Bogarduses now retired from the military and working for the same defense contractor (she at the Pentagon; he in Crystal City), they have put down spiritual roots at St. George’s.

Once again, it seems to be a good fit.  Hurley is a cradle Episcopalian, who has served on the Vestry at St. George’s.  And, having married into the denomination, Lisa welcomes the rituals and formality that have made the Episcopal Church seem like home to her despite their many moves.

But it’s not just a case of what Lisa has received from St. George’s.  Never one to do something halfway, she has been a major giver to the parish too, primarily through her ministry of music.

She loves the opportunities the Bell Choir offers to those without a background in music.  (She puts Hurley in that category.) And there are more than bells in her parish life.  Lisa plays the clarinet and saxophone in the St. George’s jazz band.

Then there’s her active participation in the Fredericksburg Community Concert Band, along with all those activities as a band parent when the kids were attending Stafford High School.

But when it comes to St. George’s, the friendliness of the parish, more than the music, attracted the Bogarduses in the first place.  Sometimes military families feel like outsiders in a church, Lisa says.

That wasn’t the case at St. George’s.  Then Rector Charles Sydnor made them feel welcome.  And Lisa recalls, in particular, the hospitality of former parishioner Bea Peterson, the wife of a retired general.  “She adopted Hurley,” Lisa remembers with a hearty laugh.

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