Biographical Information

Dates: Dates in Ridgefield: 1975 - 2011

Many people consider themselves environmentalists, but few have worked as hard at it or in as many ways as Lillian Willis. The Brooklyn, N.Y., native and Vassar graduate moved here in 1975, and only two years later was serving on the Conservation Commission, a position she held more than 20 years, with many terms as chairman. She is an author of the Conservation Commission’s popular Ridgefield Walk Book. She is also a founding member of the Discovery Center, where she ran many programs. She fought to get Weir Farm named a National Park Service Historic Site; organized the restoration of Weir's gardens with the Ridgefield Garden Club; and set up nature walks and classes there. Mrs. Willis is a founding board member of the Norwalk River Watershed Association and co-wrote The River Book, used for river environment studies by many schools in the river’s watershed and beyond. She used her writing skills at Devil’s Den, the Nature Conservancy preserve on the Weston/Redding border where she was program coordinator and publicist, and has written guides for visitors as well as countless news releases. Mrs. Willis was also active in the Ridgefield Garden Club and its conservation and beautification efforts. She advised many Boy Scouts on environmental endeavors. When she was named Rotary Club Citizen of the Year in 1996, a club official said, “she has made our town a better place through her commitment.” “Lillian is a ‘doer,’ ” added a longtime friend. She and her husband, David Willis, moved to Vermont in 2011; she is the Executive Director of the Nature Museum in Grafton.

Ridgefield Walk BookThe River Book
--Source: Notable Ridgefielders–Jack Sanders