GREENFIELD — Lisa Muegge didn’t know a stranger.
Whether she knew someone well or had met them only moments before, she was quick to call everyone her friend.
Those closest to her say she was full of love, empathy and compassion, and her desire to serve others was unmatched.
Muegge died Thursday in her Greenfield home at the age of 52. She leaves behind a husband and three sons.
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Muegge was the force behind the annual Feast of Plenty, a Thanksgiving Day outreach program that fed thousands of community members every year. She orchestrated dozens of other ministries that stretch throughout Hancock County and beyond, including a faith-based radio show and programs at local prisons.
She impacted many lives, and her family said they are taking comfort in the outpouring of support they’ve received from the community in the wake of her death.
“Some people dream of changing the world; my mom actually did it,” said her son, Nate Hungate.
Muegge worked for many years for Eli Lilly and Co. and Elanco Animal Health, and she briefly co-owned B.C. Brew and A.D. Bleu denim boutique, a combination coffee shop and clothing store located in downtown Greenfield.
But Muegge was “a woman after God’s own heart,” her son said. She volunteered with various nonprofit organizations and churches for many years, meeting new people and encouraging them to find the path that made them happy.
Muegge woke up every morning wanting to serve others, her husband, Jeff, said in a statement to the Daily Reporter.
Whether it was an at-risk family from across the county or a member of the tight-knit community at Eastern Hancock Schools, where her three children attended school, she was always willing to help.
Every Friday night after a Royals football game, Muegge invited the team into her home to share dinner and breakfast the next morning, friends said; and as if to say “thank you,” the school’s varsity boys basketball team sported roses on their jerseys at its Friday night game.
It was one of a few gatherings over the weekend when students honored her memory. Muegge’s youngest son, A.J., is a member of the basketball team and a sophomore at Eastern Hancock High School.
For 14 years, Muegge visited with women who had been incarcerated in nearby prisons and jails. And that stewardship became a constant event on the family’s calendar, said Joel Hungate, her son.
“We knew every Thursday night Mom was going to whip up something quick for dinner, and then she’d be off,” Joel Hungate said of his mother’s weekly programs for inmates. “It became part of our family’s routine.”
Muegge was perhaps best known for the Feast of Plenty celebration, which served Thanksgiving Day meals to people in need, no questions asked. The program celebrated its 10th year in 2015, when Muegge cheerfully referred to the event as “the miracle on Apple Street.”
More than 900 meals were served, and hundreds of struggling families were given bags of groceries. The annual gathering was Muegge’s passion, and the event had become a well-oiled machine after so many years, friend Julie Lewis said.
The condolences Muegge’s family has received from those who were helped by her work have been humbling and a great comfort, Joel Hungate said. Muegge’s deep Christian faith was something she passed along to her children; that faith is the only thing bigger than the pain they are feeling, he said.
Muegge’s husband agreed.
“We are honored as a family that her works are recognized, but that was never her goal,” Jeff Muegge said. “(She was) always wanting to stand in the back and recognize all around her.”