Milagrito Bios

We come from many walks of life and have many talents and skills.  

Athletics, architecture, city planning, design, education, filmmaking, fine art, journalism, landscaping, medicine, Peace Corps, photography, physiology, poetry, political activism, psychotherapy, real estate, safari guiding, software development, theater, wildlife name a few.

And...we share a common interests in green community living and a passion for our desert environs.

Enjoy this sampling of backgrounds of the Milagritos that make up our community.

Brian Stark

Classroom presenter for environmental education, banjo player, ultra runner.

Seeking to cross all 50 states on foot.

Husband to understanding wife and kids. 

Cathy Mullan

A third generation Arizonan who looked to the West Coast to find the lifestyle that she wanted and finally found it right in her own Arizona backyard in Milagro.

A desert native who was jumping rocks and chasing snakes before jumping streams.

A person who has journeyed to the bottom with a chronic condition and death to find a way to the top through co-housing.

A corporate head hunter who found that tracking desert animals and plants is much more in line with her philosophy of life.

A traveler, designer, political idealist with a lot of planting on the side.

David Bygott and Jeannette Hanby

David Bygott and Jeannette Hanby spent nearly 30 years in Tanzania as wildlife researchers, educators, artists and safari guides. For most of that time they lived off-grid in remote areas.

When they decided to move to USA they researched intentional communities, visiting ten before settling in Milagro in 2003.

Here too they are involved in a variety of scientific, artistic and practical activities. They enjoy learning about the wildlife of southern Arizona, and are involved in tracking animal movements between the “Sky Island” mountain ranges. They still visit East Africa every year, leading National Geographic expeditions in Tanzania, Uganda or Rwanda.

Donna Branch-Gilby

Donna Branch-Gilby was a Navy brat from Bremerton, Washington to Kansas City, Kailua, Hawaii and Washington D.C. As a young married, she attended universities from Seattle to Puerto Rico, finally graduating from the UA and starting her family of two in Tucson.

With a loved career in staff development and training, she married Bob Gilby (hubby #2) and dove into the adventure of developing a cohousing community in 1994.

She currently relishes living in Milagro, socializing with local grandkids (check out Cameron Quentin Williams on U Tube) and fomenting change through progressive politics.

The Gohlkes

​​Frank Gohlke was born in Wichita Falls, TX. He abandoned a far-from-promising career as an English professor to pursue an even more questionable vocation as an art photographer.

Things turned out better than either he or his father could have predicted and he is now the Laureate Professor of Photography at the University of Arizona.  

Frank is currently in Kazakhstan photographing the last of the wild apple forests.  Joining him on this merry adventure is his wife, the painter and textile designer Elise Paradis Gohlke.

Their five children and two grandchildren include filmmaker Jessica Gohlke, artist/writer/pastry chef extraordinaire Emma Gohlke, printmaker Andrew Kensett, humanitarian activist Grace Gohlke, and the very promising early modernist and future history professor, Catherine Arnold, any of whom could be in residence at any time.

Holly Lovejoy

As a kid in Wisconsin I used to draw communities on my wall.  Places where folks would interact and share resources and lives.  And since age 5, I’ve felt the Sonoran Desert as my ecological home.   I’m so happy merging these two dreams here Milagro.

Now I can’t imagine living anywhere else.  Not that I’m a homebody.  I’ve lived on four continents, studied eleven languages, and recently served in Philippines with the Peace Corps.  But back here at Milagro, my passion has been landscaping and demonstrating sustainable living in the desert.

I’m a yogi, and artist, musician and athlete (individual, quiet sports). After a career as an Administrator and Librarian, I’m happy to have more time to read, especially enjoying histories—natural, cultural, and historical.  I’m always in observation mode, and you’ll find me out studying nature and cultures, trying to figures out how things evolved.  I find beauty and humor in most things.

My goals include daily walks in nature,  being thankful and kind, doing good, living lightly, and laughing.  Laughing so hard that I cry and wet my pants.  I find beauty and humor in most things.    I don’t have much patience for people, but bask in the warm of living both sides of  the Golden Rule.  I love traveling with Jerry, and spending precious time with family and children and grandchildren in Flagstaff and Madison. 

This John Lennon quote sums me up:

“In school, they asked what I wanted to be”.
“I said, ‘happy’”.
“They said I didn’t understand the assignment.”
“I said they didn’t understand life”.

Jackie Day

Jackie and her late husband were involved with much of the planning of Milagro following the zoning approval. Jackie moved to Milagro in 2002 with her youngest son, then a junior in high school. He completed school and moved on. Jackie keeps busy with activities sponsored by the Returned Peace Corps community in Tucson.  She is also active in political issues.  She loves the outdoors and hikes whenever possible.  She is involved with a book club and a writing group.  She enjoys time spent with her five children and seven grandchildren. She loves to travel wherever and whenever she can.

Joe Breck

Joe Breck has a background working in the mental health field: on a Wagon Train with troubled teens, working with trauma as a body worker (Rolfer) and currently working as a clinician at the SAMHC Crisis Center. He recently spent three years with Linda in Germany, taking trumpet lessons and traveling throughout Europe. He has three granddaughters, one at ASU, one at University High, and one in grade school. He loves the friendliness of his good neighbors at Milagro.

John Solso and Sybil Aldridge

John graduated from the University of Nebraska and worked as an architect in Princeton, Albuquerque, San Francisco and London.  After a ten year sojourn farming in Fethiye on the Mediterranean coast of Turkey, he returned  to the  U.S. to specialize in designing passive solar houses.  He is fascinated by traditional Turkish and Chinese architecture, enjoys travelling and has made a life study of the Tao Te Ching.  He sees cohousing as a way to explore a kind of tribal living appropriate to contemporary life.

Sybil earned a BA in French and English before serving as a Peace Corps teacher of math, science and English in Sabah, Malaysia (North Borneo).  She began a study of Chinese, travelled to Taiwan for further study, and on her return to the U.S. earned a M.A. in Far Eastern Languages and Literature (Chinese) from University of Michigan.  An interest in computers, word processing and administration supported her in various positions at Ann Arbor law firms, UM College of Engineering, and the UM School of Nursing.  A short stint as a book buyer for Borders added to her collection of New Age and Eastern philosophy books, her specialty subjects.  Like John, she is fascinated by Eastern philosophy and loves to travel, recently returning from one month in China.

J’Fleur and Tim Lohman

J’Fleur and Tim were married in 1961 and moved to Arizona in 1984 from Ill. where they raised their 4 children. Their youngest died in 1994 in a car accident. They have 6 grandchildren.

J’Fleur was born the youngest of six in Nazi occupied Netherlands in 1940 of Jewish parents. She immigrated to the US in 1947 and grew up in NJ. After she completed her PhD in counseling she worked in her private practice until she retired in 2006. She enjoys knitting, exercising and weight lifting. She thrives on living in community with others who also value sharing their lives with honesty and love, and value living gently on the Earth.

Tim was born in NJ the second of three boys, loving nature as long as he can remember. He has been a professor of physiology and the director of the Center for Physical Activity and Nutrition at the University of Arizona. He retired in July 2008.

Tim has come to cherish desert living and is grateful to have been part of the creation of a community which honors ecological living. His participation in men’s work with the New Warrior network movement, has greatly enriched his life. He loves reading Thomas Berry, The Sun Magazine and many philosophical and ecological writers.

Ken and Melissa Schater

​​Ken and Melissa joined Milagro from far away Atlanta while it was still in the planning stages.  They had learned about co-housing years earlier and were eager to experience it and move back to Arizona.  

Ken had just retired from a career in the United States Public Health Service as a family physician and public health manager, and Melissa from daily parenting as our youngest child flew away to college in California.  

Currently, Ken teaches at the University of Arizona College of Public Health and Melissa enjoys creating beauty through her art and gardening.  

We both enjoy spending time with our wonderful grandchildren whose parents, happily, also own a home in Milagro.  

Future plans include grandchildren, art and science, and discovering what we want to be when we grow up!

Linda Breck

I was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York and moved to Greece after college graduation where I spent a few years teaching, got married and had my first child.  

After returning to the US, my husband and I had another child and settled in Tucson where we have remained  except for 6 years, 3 in Colorado and 3 in Germany.  

After living in another co-housing community in Tucson we moved to Milagro almost 7 years ago drawn by the beauty of the desert and community, the proximity to downtown and the ease of neighborly living.  

Who am I?  I am a mother, grandmother, partner and friend to my husband, psychotherapist, world traveler/wanderluster, book reader, good friend, meditator, cook, hiker, student, facilitator.

I strive to be a good neighbor, to be compassionate and to live each day, each year with an adventurous and generous heart. 

Mary Lou Benigno

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Born in Garfield Park, Chicago IL
Italian / American Heritage
Piano / Ballet / Writing / Drama / Art
all girl catholic high school,
only my hormones kept me out of the convent
currently worshiping the sun
as a recovering catholic who can't carry a tune.
Retired Early Childhood Educator
Studied at Prescott / ASU / Gateway / Oakton College
Mother of three grown children with four grandchildren
Serious about our environment and all things sustainable.
Dream: Creating an Affordable, Intergenerational, Sustainable Community
"Too soon oldt, Too late schmardt". But having fun in the process. 

Patricia DeWitt

"In and of community lies the salvation of the world." This quote from Scott Peck contains much truth for Patricia. "People caring about other people do make a big difference. Community living is an excellent way to be interdependent," expresses Patricia's desire to live at Milagro. She was born in Denver and was raised in the Seattle, Washington area. Patricia lived in the San Francisco Bay area before moving to Tucson.

Tucson has been her home for over thirty years. She has two sons, one living in California and one in Arkansas. She is now retired from her career as a Realtor.

New adventures call to Patricia. Over the years she has hiked the Inca Trail to Macchu Picchu, climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro, parachuted on her 50th birthday, petted whales in Baja, canoed the swamps in Florida, rafted the Colorado and a few other things. Milagro is her current adventure.

Hiking is one of her favorite things to do. "Being outside in the Arizona foothills and mountains is glorious," Patricia says enthusiastically. She also enjoys reading, music, self-improvement, movies, conversation, the laughter of small children, gardening, flowers, reveling in the wonders of the universe, learning about and implementing the principles of sustainability. Volunteering is also important. She is on the steering committee for the Tucson IONS group, treasurer for the local Ananda group and helps co ordinate the recycling and re using of many things at Milagro.