After 102 years, Mom has concluded her remarkable and generous life. Born Margaret Jane Henry on a farm just west of Belleville, Kansas to Samuel James and Nettie (Myers) Henry, she was 12 when her father died October 1929.
A child of the Great Depression, she and her siblings, Elbert (Edna), Jim (Helen), and Melissa (Jim Arbuthnot) knew what it meant to do without and always appreciated what they had.
After High School, she taught in a one-room schoolhouse for a year before 6 months convalescence from polio. Thereafter, she remained remarkably healthy until very recently. In 1939 she completed her degree in music at Kansas State University subsequently “teaching farm boys to sing” in Glenelder and Hunter, Kansas.
With the advent of WW II she was inspired to train as a cadet nurse at Case Western Reserve in Cleveland, OH, completing her MSN in 1949.
Returning to Kansas City to be head nurse of the operating room at Kansas City General Hospital (currently Truman Medical Center), she met and in 1951 married Dan L Berger, MD, a resident in Obstetrics recently returned from Army service in the Pacific.
After serving for several years as Director of Nursing at Trinity Lutheran Hospital she retired to care for her four children, Barbara, Elisabeth (Harold Munson), William (Martha Branson), and James (Diana Schramm).
As her children entered school, she devoted progressively more time to civic activities. Margaret’s plentiful common sense and intelligence coupled with a drive to give meant that she typically rose to President or Chair “because somebody had to do it, and I guess it was just my turn.” Her modesty aside, she was an effective leader because of her hard work, creative vision, and the respect and kindness with which she saw and treated all persons. The Women’s Symphony Assn., Women’s Committee of the Lyric Opera, Local Chapters of the American Heart Assn., American Red Cross, United Way, and Mu Phi Epsilon all benefitted from her guiding hand. In 1969, recognizing that she was volunteering over 40 hours weekly, she decided she “might as well get a real job.” She had substituted as a School Nurse, and when a full time position opened up at Shawnee Mission South, she applied, serving there until 1981.
This also provided her with a supportive environment and external focus when Dan died suddenly in 1976. She also became a big High School football fan. Who knew?
The early 1980s saw her children complete their educations, move away, marry, etc. In 1988 she married again to Floyd C. Atwell, MD and thereby extended her family. As was her way, she embraced Floyd’s three sons Don, Tom (Jane), and Charlie (Janelle) and their families. After Floyd passed in 1999 Margaret settled into a comfortable retirement with her oldest daughter, Barbara, in Oak Park, Ill.
She saw eight Berger grandchildren: H. Jacob, Roseanna (Dagan Thorgeson), Christopher (Noelle Bykowski), Henry (Kiersten Gray), Richard, James (Kathleen Thompson), Melinda (James Saunders), and Benjamin (Katherine Byrne) as well as four Atwell grandchildren, Donna (Eddie Labrado), Matthew, Martin, and Ashley (Chisco Soler).
Just weeks after celebrating Mom’s 100th Birthday, we lost Barbara. This heartbreaking tragedy precipitated a move to assisted living. Always a Kansan at heart, she insisted on a return “home” and found a place at Rose Estates, one mile from Jim and Diana. She naturally made friends there rapidly.
Services will be held at Rose Estates 127th & Antioch, Overland Park, KS on Saturday 15 December 2018 at 10:30. In lieu of flowers, donations to the Kansas City Symphony or American Red Cross would be appreciated.