About Elizabeth G Fagan
Fagan’s family lived on the Connecticut shoreline during her teenage years. She attended a private arts high school adjacent to Hammonasset State Park on Long Island Sound. There she began writing and taking photographs. “The Hammonasset School was the epitome of a hippie school. No grades, no requirements. It was a different era,” she says.
Fagan went on to study at Grinnell College (Grinnell, IA) and Grinnell-in-London (UK). Two things happened while she was in London: she turned 21, and she realized she was a city person.
Upon returning the the USA, she moved to Chicago. “I fell in love with Chicago. I lived within walking distance of Wrigley Field for 35 years. I was not born there, but the City by the Lake is my home town.”
Fagan finished a BA in English at the University of Illinois Chicago (UIC) Continuing at UIC, Fagan acquired an MA in Linguistics with a specialization in teaching English as a second language (ESL).
After college, Fagan became an editor at a Chicago–area book publisher. A few years later, she launched a successful writing and consulting business. “I was a mercenary writer,” she says.
Then the internet came along. Fagan viewed it as the world’s publishing platform and wanted to be part of it. She returned to college for an associate degree in Web Development from DePaul University (Chicago). “Websites were static pages at first. Then we started innovating. It was exciting. We had a lot of fun.”
One day in the late 1990s, Fagan got an email from Microsoft HR in Seattle. It was an invitation to interview for a job. “When I realized it was not a hoax, I almost fell out of my chair. At the time, Microsoft was receiving 50,000 unsolicited résumés a month. But I had married a Chicagoan who would never leave his city.” Fagan temporarily commuted to Seattle to work on a version of Windows as an independent contractor.
After the gig at Microsoft, Fagan landed a position at Oprah Winfrey’s Harpo Studios in Chicago. She worked on oprah.com for five years. She began as a front-end coder and was promoted to Manager of Web Development. “Ms. Winfrey has always been one of my heroes. She overcame so many obstacles to become the world’s most successful woman.”
Fagan was happily married—no children by choice—when she suddenly became a widow in 2009. “My husband was the best friend I ever had. I miss him every day.”
Fagan’s family has deep Wisconsin roots. Her parents were Wisconsin natives who met at UWM. Fagan and her two sisters were born in Madison. Her family lived in Thiensville until I she 10. Fagan’s mother, with whom she was very close, retired to Cedarburg and lived there for many years. Fagan and her husband visited often.
“My husband died the day we put my Mom in a nursing home. It was the beginning of the Great Recession. Mom faded slowly, lost her memories, and in the end, did not know who I was. I wanted to move to the end of the world. I made it as far as Wisconsin.”
Fagan bought a fixer-upper beach cottage on Lake Michigan. She lives with two cats and a German Shepherd named Ruby. She writes, takes photographs, and makes art. “Living on a Great Lake is like camping, but in a house.” She also gardens—”that’s a euphemism for fighting invasive species”—and collects rocks and fossils along Lake Michigan’s shoreline.
Fagan was a Chicago Bulls fanatic in the Michael Jordan era. “I was at the game when they won the 5th championship,” she says. She remains an avid Chicago Cubs fan. “Wrigley Field was my neighbor for 35 years. In summer, I rode the El home from work with Cubs fans headed for Wrigley. The beautiful ballpark, the roar of the crowds, the buzzing bars and sports shops—all were part of my world.”
- “Art from Lake Michigan’s Left Coast,” Grinnell College Alumni Association
- Cedarburg Artists Guild
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