Marguerite passed away peacefully on Wednesday, March 6, 2019 at her home south of Crawford, NE. She was born on August 26, 1924 at the corner of Fifth and Reed Streets in Crawford, NE to parents Arthur Dorcy and Marguerite May Belle (Raum) Baker. When Marguerite entered the world, she already had two half brothers, Shelton and Eugene, and a half sister, Francis. Marguerite remembered much love and hard work evident in her family as she grew up in Crawford. Her father worked for Lewis’ Grocery Store, and her mother took in ironing and mending jobs as well as running the home. Marguerite cherished growing up in Crawford and had many fond memories of her childhood. In her own words, she wrote, “Mine has been a good life. I was born in the right place at the right time to the right parents and grew up in the right little town.” She attended all 12 years of school in Crawford, was good at running and basketball, and worked hard to get good grades. Marguerite was a talented musician, playing percussion (especially drums) from 5th through 12th grades and participating in every practice, program, and parade. She also learned to play the piano and sang in a girls’ sextet, girls’ choir, and mixed choir. At graduation, she was surprised and thrilled to receive a trophy and the school’s first ever “Outstanding Musical Award.”
In the summertime, Marguerite loved all the fun activities small-town life affords – rollerskating and biking around town, swimming in the park swimming pool, reading books from the library, playing marbles and street games with her siblings and other neighbor kids, and taking in most of the movies at the local theater. Most times she would eat a whole box of cherry cordials each time she went to the movies! Somehow, for much of her life, she maintained a slim figure in spite of her love for sweets. She kept awfully busy, which helped burn it all off!
Her family had a small cabin south of town, which was on the original Baker family homestead on Saw Log, that they frequented on weekends. There they collected firewood, played in the creek, and her brothers hunted small game to help feed the family, especially when the Great Depression and war years made times tougher. Marguerite also remembered some fun trips to the Black Hills with her family. On one such outing, she and her family came across 30th U.S. President Calvin Coolidge as he was out taking a walk. Her father told the children to take note of the special encounter.
Marguerite graduated from Crawford High School in May 1942. She and her cousin, Irene, both attended Chadron State Teacher’s College (now Chadron State College) for a condensed teaching education. Marguerite stayed in Edna Work Hall during the week and took the train home on the weekends.
Marguerite met the love of her life, Gordon Wheeler Williams, while still in high school at the young age of 15. She joked that her mother would let her go and do many things as long as Gordon was in the crowd, so she decided she might as well date him. It was a harder sell when she said she wanted to marry him. Her father was always fond of Gordon and thankful she chose him, but her mother wasn’t sure they were equally yoked. Marguerite and Gordon were married on January 10, 1943 at the home of the Dawes County judge and picked up two Civilian Pilot Trainees along the way to serve as their witnesses. They didn’t tell Marguerite’s mother for awhile. Eventually she forgave them!
After Marguerite finished classes, she and Gordon moved into a cute, tiny home south of Crawford where Gordon helped farm and ranch and Marguerite set up house and prepared for their first child. She ended up staying in town with her parents when she was nearly due so as to have easier access to a doctor. Their daughter, Janeta, was born in January 1944 in the same house in the same bed in which Marguerite had been born.
While Gordon worked for various ranches in the region, Marguerite continued her teaching education and taught school in several country schools in Dawes County, Sioux County, Box Butte County, and Morrill County. She taught 12 years in all. In November 1951, their son Rocky was born in Scottsbluff, NE.
In 1960, the family decided to move to Colorado where Gordon worked as an auctioneer and for a feedlot, and Marguerite obtained a position at family-owned Jolly Rancher Candy, which she really enjoyed. She said she could always tell which flavor they were making each day when arriving at work, because the air smelled like that flavor. At that time, they even made chocolates!
After about 10 years in Colorado, Gordon and Marguerite relocated to a cattle feedlot outside of Gruver, TX where Gordon worked as Head of the Cowboys and Marguerite worked as Office Manager. After 15 years in Texas, the two retired in 1986 and moved back to Colorado to be closer to their daughter Janeta and her family. In 1996, they all decided to moved back to Crawford.
Marguerite always considered it such a joy to be able to “come home” to Crawford. She and Gordon moved into the little blue house at 219 Linn Street that had belonged to her grandparents, William and Virginia Raum, while she was growing up. It felt a little bit like a full circle of sorts. She loved and believed in that little town and all the people who live there. About a year after Gordon’s death in 2015, Marguerite decided that she was tired of being alone and moved in with her daughter, Janeta, and son-in-law, Richard, south of town near Belmont. Janeta, with help from Chadron Community Hospital Home Health and Hospice, was able to keep Marguerite at home until the very end.
Marguerite had an optimistic outlook regarding much of her life and always strived to see the good in people. She enjoyed baking, sewing, reading, and tending to her flowers and plants, both inside and out. She had a soft spot in her heart for all animals, even spiders and wasps, and especially loved dogs, cats, and birds. She had many favorite pets throughout the years. She also loved babies of all kinds, but especially loved to cuddle human babies, puppies, and kittens. She was an avid book reader and birdwatcher until nearly the day she passed away.
Marguerite had a genuine love for and relationship with the Lord and an implicit trust in Him that saw her through many dark and troubled times. She eagerly looked forward to resurrection morning as promised in God’s Word when she will be reunited with her loved ones and friends and get to experience life together in Heaven as the years of eternity roll. Although her family misses her so very much, they are incredibly thankful for the time they had. They also gain much strength from the blessed hope of being reunited with her and the Lord one day soon.
Marguerite leaves behind daughter Janeta Barkley of Crawford, NE; son Rocky (Stan) Williams of Scottsbluff, NE; granddaughters Deborah (Gonzell) Turner of Frederick, MD, Roxie (Eser) Graham-Marski of Crawford, NE, Kambria (Leisha Owens) Marski of Joshua, TX, and Erin (Bryan) Sellers of Joshua, TX; stepgranddaughters Linda (Scott) Simpson of Loveland, CO and Wendy Burchik of Austin, TX; stepgrandson Bruce Graham; great-grandchildren Rachel (Russell) Huggins of Oneida, NY, Robin (Brandon) Hebard of Benton Harbor, MI, Cari and Carson McCoy of Van, TX, Erik, Elena, Ethan, Eli, and Emilee Marski of Joshua, TX, and Dylan and Cameron Sellers of Joshua, TX; step-great-grandchilden Tina (Jason) Crosley of Brighton, CO, Adam (Carri) Simpson of Loveland, CO, Brian (Christina) Smith of Austin, TX, and Jacob Duane Graham of Loveland, CO; great-great-grandchildren Hadley and Hampton Huggins and Alexander Hebard; step-great-great-grandchildren Weston (Alicia) Crosley, Shelby Crosley, Austin and Reid Smith, Peyton Simpson, and Payten and Colten Hillyer; step-great-great-great-granddaughter Cheyenne Crosley (who was born less than two months after Marguerite’s death); sister-in-law Frances Williams of Lenoir City, TN; several cousins, nieces, and nephews; and countless friends.
Marguerite was preceded in death by parents Arthur Dorcy and Marguerite May Belle (Raum) Baker; brothers Shelton (Maxine) Davidson and Eugene (Helen) Baker; sister Francis (Joe) Minch; brothers-in-law Ivan (Irma and Grace), Gerald (Evelyn), and Royce Williams; sons-in-law Duane Graham and Richard Barkley; and grandsons L.I. Soester and Brandon Williams.
Marguerite loved quotes and positive affirmations of hope. Here are two that were found in her Bible. Both she had periodically shared with her loved ones:
“Every morning, lean awhile upon the windowsill of Heaven and gaze upon the Lord. Then, with that vision in your heart, turn strong and meet the day.”
“God is Love; His love surrounds me. In that love, I safely dwell. Above, below, all around me, God is Love, and All is Well.”
A memorial has been established for Chadron Community Hospital Home Health and Hospice. Donations may be sent to Chamberlain Chapel, P.O. Box 970, Chadron, NE 69337.