In Lillian Brueggemann's mind, everyone always had something to learn. She was a perpetual student, according to family members. She took courses beside teenage students at Northport High School well into her 80s.
"She kept her mind going," said Dianna Brueggemann-LoBue of Kings Park, Brueggemann's granddaughter.
Brueggemann, executive secretary for the Northport-East Northport school district for nearly 30 years and a 15-year school board member, died of cancer July 25 at the Visiting Nurse Service and Hospice of Suffolk Inc. Hospice House in East Northport. She was 89.
A lifelong resident of East Northport, Brueggemann was born Lillian Straub on Feb. 18, 1924 and graduated from Northport High School in 1941. Brueggemann wanted to become a teacher, but when her mother died, the then-19-year-old gave up a college scholarship and stayed home to care for her family, she told Newsday in 1999.
She met Robert Brueggemann, a supply sergeant in the Army, in 1944 while he was stationed in Eatons Neck, her family said. The two married in 1945.
In 1960 Brueggemann began working for the Northport-East Northport school district. During her tenure she worked for four superintendents: Bernhard Schneider, Joseph Grimes, Fenwick English and William Brosnan, according to school records.
She retired in 1989 and was elected a trustee of the school board in 1990, a position she held for 15 years. Brueggemann began taking classes at the high school around the same time she was elected to the board.
"I felt I needed to connect with kids of today and understand what they are feeling and thinking," Brueggemann told Newsday in 1999. "It's wonderful to get back to the classroom and stretch your mind."
Brueggemann took two or three classes a year at the high school, including advanced placement and international baccalaureate courses. She was an honors student and her report cards typically came back with an average at or above 100, her family said.
"She did her homework, she did her exams," said her son, Douglas Brueggemann of Northport. "I often asked her when she was going to graduate."
After retiring, and when she wasn't doing work for the school board, Brueggemann enjoyed painting. Her artwork was featured in shows at the school's teacher's lounge.
Her husband died in 2003.
In addition to her son, Douglas, she is survived by sons Dennis Brueggemann of Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, and David Brueggemann of Omaha, Neb.; several grandchildren and a great-grandchild.
Services have been held.
Brueggemann's family has established a scholarship in her memory, and interested parties can donate to the Lillian S. Brueggemann Educational Scholarship Fund, c/o the Brueggemann Funeral Home, 522 Larkfield Rd., East Northport, NY 11731.