A woman whose compassion for others was unparalleled and whose life was cut tragically short due to terminal illness.
Lisa Arbus (nee Walsh)
Lisa, who always wore a smile and had a kind word to share, was a native Staten Islander. She attended Our Lady Queen of Peace Grammar School, St. Joseph by the Sea High School, St. John's University and the College of Staten Island, where she earned her master’s degree in education. Soon after earning her degree, Lisa began a second career as an educator, where she quickly realized teaching was her passion. To say educating students was Lisa’s calling, would be a tremendous understatement.
Lisa spent much of her teaching career at the William A. Morris School (I.S. 61) on Castleton Avenue, a place she considered her second home. Lisa’s love for her school and her students was evident and the feelings were undoubtedly mutual, particularly inside the classroom, where Lisa became a role model, mentor and mother figure to many.
Lisa was also a cherished daughter and sister, a devoted wife, loving mother, beloved step-mother, wonderful grandmother, and the favorite aunt and friend.
The love for Lisa Arbus among her students and colleagues at I.S. 61 became increasingly evident when her family was contacted by the school and invited to attend a dedication ceremony, where they were to rename the I.S. 61 computer lab, “The Lisa Arbus Technology Center.” This being the only section of the school dedicated to a female and one of three sections with any such dedication at all. The faculty let Lisa’s family know that because she left an indelible mark on their school, they wanted to see her name there as a permanent fixture.
Naturally moved by the gesture, Lisa’s family gathered together at I.S. 61 on June 5th to attend the renaming of the computer lab. Much to their surprise, in addition to the renaming ceremony, the family was then escorted to the auditorium where they attended a breathtaking performance put on by the students and faculty, choreographed with music, dance, design and costume, highlighting the various stages of Lisa Arbus’ life. There was not a dry eye in the house!
Early in her adult life, Lisa Arbus was diagnosed with Lupus, and in 2012, she was also diagnosed with Interstitial Lung Disease, a disease with no cure, believed to have been caused by mold formed in her basement; the after-effects of flooding due to the overflowing of the Passaic River caused by Hurricane Irene.
Shortly after this most-recent diagnosis, life as Lisa once knew it would never be the same. Daily living became increasingly difficult, and as she was shuffled in and out of hospitals and back-and-forth to various doctor’s appointments, in her typical Lisa fashion, she never lost her smile or her positive attitude and remained hopeful to the bitter end, an end which was unknowingly and rapidly approaching.
In March of 2015, Lisa was finally diagnosed with stage IV Lung Cancer. She took a leave of absence from work and began extensive treatment, including chemotherapy at Sloan Kettering Memorial Cancer Center in Manhattan. As time quickly passed, Lisa’s health rapidly declined and while she fought an epic battle, Lisa succumbed to the disease on October 8th, 2017.
Soon after Lisa’s passing, several brokenhearted friends and family members joined together to establish the Live Like Lisa Foundation, Inc., a foundation whose mission is to inspire hope and contribute to individuals and families in the community affected by terminal disease. The primary way the Foundation plans to accomplish this is to organize fundraisers whose proceeds are used to support members of the community suffering from terminal disease with high medical bills.