Margaret Kolberg ended her amazing journey through life, passing away peacefully in her sleep at home on March 18. She filled her 99 years with rich accomplishments, including decorated educator, devoted mother, supporter of numerous charitable causes and nonpareil baker.
Margaret was born in Portage, Wisconsin and was raised in the small nearby lakeside village of Pardeeville. She was the youngest of three siblings. Margaret’s father, William, was a successful entrepreneur, owning and operating, in succession, a neighborhood butcher shop, a local automotive dealership and, finally, a regional canning company. Her mother, Katherine, was a devoted wife and mother, at whose side Margaret learned her prolific baking skills.
Her adolescent years were filled with family endeavors, including the joy of two older brothers, Kenneth and Wayne. Together they would attend local touring performances by such legendary band leaders as Glenn Miller, Tommy Dorsey and Benny Goodman, visiting the family farm and enjoying summers by the nearby lake.
Margaret spent the entirety of her primary and secondary education in Pardeeville and was an outstanding student. In high school, Margaret also was a star basketball player, being offered, upon graduation, an opportunity to play with a professional women’s team. However, her father, who didn’t have the opportunity to complete high school, convinced her to continue her post-secondary education. She spent the next four years attending Beloit College, then the University of Wisconsin—Whitewater, from which she graduated in 1945. She was an active member of the Sigma Sigma Sigma sorority at both.
Her father had offered her a trip anywhere in the country as a gift for her graduation, so she opted to visit her mother’s relatives in Southern California—her first trip outside her home state. It was there that she met the man who would ultimately become her husband, Wilbur, via an introduction by her first cousin. Returning to Wisconsin, Margaret secured her first job teaching shorthand, business, typing, and bookkeeping at Walworth High School.
A marriage proposal from Wilbur lured her back to California, where they wed in 1949. Following the birth of their first child, William, Margaret and Wilbur separated briefly and she returned to Wisconsin. This time she applied the same skills she had been teaching students, first, as the secretary to the manager of the Merrimack Department of Water and Power and, then, as a court reporter to a Columbia County Judge.
But, Wilbur convinced her to return to California with their son and together they bought a home in Monrovia, where she lived until her death. They welcomed two daughters, Jean and Gretchen, into their lives. Although Margaret remained a resident of the golden state, she never lost touch with her family and friends in Wisconsin, traveling each summer and/or holiday season to her hometown or hosting visits to California by her midwestern acquaintances. Not surprisingly, the latter became very popular during the winter.
Margaret returned to the workforce as the secretary to the principal at the newly constructed campus of Duarte High School. She remained there until a unique opportunity came her way which would return her to the classroom one final time. President Kennedy’s Manpower Development and Training Act of 1962 was a catalyst to get more Americans trained and back into the workforce. Margaret was offered a position as one of the founding teachers in this program, conducted under the auspices and as an extension program of Pasadena City College. She spent the next two decades as a college instructor training students in business English and business math. She was recognized as a Distinguished Educator in California during her tenure.
Margaret retired in 1984 and spent most of her free time with her adult children, volunteering at her church and pursuing her passion for baking. It was during this time that her family expanded with the marriage of all three children and the birth of her first grandchild. She served as an elder, a deacon, a member of the choir and a volunteer secretary to the minister of her congregational church. And, in the kitchen, her unique desserts became an object of desire among all her family and friends. As delectable as they were, however, they took played second fiddle behind her annual Christmas gift platters, loaded with an array of special holiday sweets for all tastes. They were something to covet and people she knew anxiously awaited these every holiday season.
In passing, Margaret leaves behind her son, William, and daughter-in-law, Lynn, and a daughter, Jean, and grandson, David, as well as 14 nieces and nephews. She was pre-deceased by her husband, Wilbur, daughter, Gretchen, and brothers Kenneth and Wayne.
Private graveside services will be held in her hometown of Pardeeville, Wisconsin.
Arrangements are under the care of Douglass & Zook Funeral and Cremation Services, Monrovia, CA.
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Funeral planning is funded through the purchase of whole life insurance from National Guardian Life Insurance Company, Madison, WI (NGL). A qualified Forest Lawn Planning Advisor who has been both licensed by the California Department of Insurance and appointed as an agent of NGL can answer any questions. Forest Lawn Mortuary (licensed by the California Department of Consumer Affairs as Douglass & Zook Funeral and Cremation Services) is an agent of NGL. National Guardian Life Insurance Company is not affiliated with The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America, aka The Guardian or Guardian Life.