A program was prepared for Margie’s memorial party. One of her paintings of roses was copied on the cover. Inside was this obituary:
In Loving Memory of
Margaret Ann Speissegger
Born: January 23, 1926, Phoenix, Arizona
Died: April 9, 2007, Tempe, Arizona (She lived in Chandler, actually.)
Margaret Ann Speissegger, 81, of Chandler, Arizona passed away on April 9, 2007. Mother, teacher, artist, traveler, friend, home remodeler, animal lover and gardener, our mother was all of these and so much more. For thirty years, Margaret loved teaching school in the Roosevelt School District at many different grade levels. Margaret also loved her cabin in Northern Arizona (Strawberry), which she took from a mere “dugout” to a true second home. Margaret was born in Arizona to Marguerite and Joseph H. Glass and acted as a secret ambassador of Arizona in her travels by leaving old copies of Arizona Highways behind in train stations and hotel rooms. Margaret is survived by her four children, Eric Speissegger, Karen West, Kurt Speissegger, and Lisa Speissegger and seven grandchildren. In lieu of flowers, donations to Margaret’s favorite charities, Arizona Humane Society, Habitat for Humanity, Hospice of the Valley, or the American Heart Association, would be greatly appreciated.
A copy of “Today Is Mine,” sung by Glen Campbell, written by Jerry Reed Hubbard, was printed on the inside cover.
A packet of flower seeds was pasted on the back cover. Under it was written: Margaret loved you all dearly. Please enjoy these flower seeds in her memory.
I wrote this report up for you all as well as for our own memories, so you will find stuff that we thought was significant or fun. But most of all you will, I hope, get a feeling for what Margie's memorial party was like, and get a report on our family. You were much on my mind, and I had to report on each of you to Mary Jo in particular and to our cousins whom I got time to talk to.
Here it is, with my love, Virginia
Report on our Trip to Aunt Margie Speissegger’s Memorial Service
April 16 – 18, 2007
Our trip really went smoothly, and I just have to brag on our dogs. On the entire trip, they behaved beautifully! Oh, there was Honey’s normal barking at people when we got out at rest stops or took walks, but she is actually better than she used to be. At a park, children gathered around to look at and pet the dogs, and she settled down and was even friendly. Heidi is always the favorite … so gentle, so small and non-threatening … and she allows the children to hold her. In the motel, the dogs had no “accidents” and damaged nothing, and we left them in the room for about 5 hours when we went to my aunt’s memorial service and party. (Charlie was really worried, but I just couldn’t pull myself away.) I had covered the floor with blue plastic sheets and newspapers, and covered the bedspreads with our own sheets. But, there was not a pee or a poop the whole time, nor any chewing of furniture or clawing at carpets ... which bored dogs will do. The Motel 6 we stayed in even had a large fenced pet yard where we could walk the dogs to do their business! The little ones could have escaped under the chain link fence, so we kept all of them on leashes, but still, it was nice to have a grassy and gravel area with a couple of trees to take them to. For their part, the dogs had a marvelous time! They love cuddling up and riding in the car with us, love the adventures at rest stops, and love being together in the motel. (We got two double beds so ALL of them had room to sleep on the beds with us.) There is so much excitement on a trip that yesterday they were just worn out!
Well, you can tell that we actually enjoy taking them with us. They slow us down considerably … leashing them up at each stop; taking them out for potty breaks. And they are a concern that they would misbehave or something would happen to them. And we don’t do certain things because we couldn’t leave them in a hot car. Nevertheless … we’re glad we took them on this trip.
The trip over to Columbus on Highway 9, the southern route, is great. We didn’t go in to the museum or over to Mexico, of course, but we all loved Coot’s Hill where army lookouts could observe Pancho Villa’s soldiers approaching. The desert was blooming and beautiful. Driving further on Highway 9, I was driving and missed a key turn at tiny Animas … so we drove on Highway 338 way down into the boot heel of New Mexico. When the road turned into gravel, Charlie said, “I know this isn’t right.” So we turned around and went back … cost us almost an hour, I guess. Anyway, on over to Douglas we went. It is a good road and almost zero traffic.
In Douglas we parked on a side street, took the dogs, and walked all over town where Charlie remembers walking as a child … past the schools his mother attended as a child, all around the neighborhood of his Grandmother Bull’s home, downtown to the theatre which compares to the Plaza and which they are trying to restore, past the grand old Gadsden Hotel, then by some storefront property his grandmother once owned. He thoroughly enjoyed reliving those formative days in his life. At one point, waiting on a corner for a traffic light to change, a car going through the intersection actually came to a stop to smile and look at our dogs. The car behind that car waited patiently. So, our dogs actually “stopped traffic.”
From Douglas we drove up to Bisbee where we stopped briefly at the Lavender Pit Mine. It is not named after the color, but after Harrison Lavender who figured out how to extract the low grade copper from the mountain and developed the open pit mine. As it was getting late, we by-passed the charming little city then drove on up and through Tombstone, then joined I-10 at Benson and drove on to our motel. I had taken all three meals which we ate as we drove.
We slept in and had a leisurely morning the next day. Aunt Margie’s party was at 1:00 p.m. It was a fairly easy drive to her house.
Karen had told me that her mom didn’t want a sad funeral … no weeping … in fact, she wanted us to have a party. And that’s what we did. I contributed cookies, chocolate dipped apricots, pound cake and pumpkin bread. The children ordered in huge amounts of food and had ice chests full of beverages. Others brought beautiful fruit and Marie Callendar pies. Margie always loved her yard, and her spacious covered patio looks out at her large pool. Relatives and friends gathered, sat and talked and ate at tables and chairs in and out of the house. Margie’s art was displayed in the house, and they had a slide show of family photos in the living room.
Of course, Mary Jo and Lee, and Uncle Larry and most of our cousins were there. I got to have a long conversation with Mary Jo. Although she is terribly crippled with scoliosis and has heart and diabetes problems, she is as interested in all of us and our families as ever. Camille came down from Flagstaff where she is happy being a homemaker. Didn’t get to talk with her very much. She has a daughter about Desiree’s age. I did talk with Richard who flew over from Rio Rancho. He’s really a nice guy. He has his own building or electronics supply business which he works with his wife. They have no children. Candis is working in Vail and wasn’t able to come. Her daughter is in her upper twenties, and has decided to go back to school to become a lawyer. Lee seems to be in good health, and is very good about helping Mary Jo get around. Charlie had a nice conversation with him.
Uncle Larry came up from Tucson with his new wife, Mary Sorenson (?). She is a very nice, attractive woman quite a bit younger than Larry ... maybe 10 years younger. Larry is proud of her, and they seem very well suited and happy. They had a lovely wedding last December 26 and both sets of children were supportive. They’re going to sell their separate homes and have bought a home with a view of all Tucson. John was there, but I hardly got to talk to him. Susan couldn’t get away. The star was Patricia (Pat). She’s not only beautiful, dressed in a smart yellow suit and round brimmed straw hat with saucy yellow rose, but she is such fun to be around. She had brought and gave me a transcript of a conversation she had taped between Virginia Lee and Margie specifically about their memories of Mormon Lake adventures. She also had some wonderful old photos from her mom’s albums. Further, she has such wonderful memories of Mother and Daddy. She remembers Mother’s colorful, dramatic clothing … she said, “She made me think of Auntie Mame with her red cape tossed over her shoulder.” She also fondly recalled Mother and Daddy’s visit to them when they were forest rangers in Montana (?). They lived in primitive housing and had no running water. Mother and Daddy treated them to a home cooked meal and a real shower. They may have even spent the night, as Pat said Mother dressed her in her negligee … such luxury! I had a nice chat with Pat’s husband Tom. He is an administrator in a private medical school and is very excited about a program they have developed to prepare doctors who will go to and practice in under-served areas. Their two boys are either doctors already or are in residence.
Karen and Lisa were good hostesses. We didn’t get to talk to either one very much, but they were warm and loving. Both teared up when we expressed our sympathy, then said they were trying not to be weepy, but to have happy memories as their mom wished. Margie had a very difficult last year, with limited speech ability and movement. But there were times she was happy. She had a good time at the birthday celebration they had for her in January (?). Then, about ten days before she passed away, Pat and Karen took her and Mary Jo in their wheelchairs to the Arizona Botanical Gardens. Margie and Mary Jo took me there a few years ago. It’s a huge, beautiful, hilly area of the desert with every sort of desert plant imaginable. A special feature at this time of year is the Butterfly Garden. Pat talked about how Margie was delighted with the butterflies lighting on her wrist and arm. Because of the hilly paths, Pat would get a running start with Margie’s wheelchair to get it up the next rise. Margie was tickled by this, and the faster Pat went, the more Margie giggled. Pat, Karen, and Mary Jo talked about what a wonderful memory it was for them.
I didn’t get to talk to Karen’s daughters Cathy and Amy or husband Bob very much except about Margie’s two little dogs (shitzsus -- Sp.??). They will take care of them until Lisa can provide a place for them in Atlanta. Lisa is single, but seems to enjoy her work, I assume still with the control of communicable diseases. I had nice chats with Eric and Kurt. Eric is a nurse’s aide in the intensive care unit of a hospital in Colorado and has a grape vineyard. His wife Monica was there, and son Jered who is about 20 and is “taking a break from college.” Kurt lives in Phoenix and I think I understood that he works in the administrative offices for Social Security and welfare. His son Joseph must be about 13, a nice looking kid, but I didn’t get to talk with him. Kurt and Eric especially wanted me to tell Jim and Richard hello.
We stayed at Margie’s until almost six o’clock and Charlie was really worried about the dogs. But, as reported earlier, the dogs were FINE.
We snacked on fruit that Lisa sent home with us and watched a fascinating program on TV about the situation in Iraq … US trained and equipped “police” turning into religious death squads. Slept well, then slept late. Packed up and left. Ate a $1.00 Burger King for breakfast. Drove straight south on Highway 87 to I-10 then on to Benson. We stopped at a very nice Visitors’ Center in Benson, got an Arizona map plus other tourist information, and walked the dogs. Charlie discovered a Candy Store! On an impulse, he decided he wanted to buy some candy! He wanted me to pick it out. It was a charming shop with prettily displayed candy and cute gift items and a big counter with all types of fudges. I was concerned about Charlie and the dogs waiting, so I went out and told him to come in and choose. The clerk, __________, saw the problem and told us we could just let the dogs into the store! I kept them on short leashes and Charlie picked out 6 different flavors of fudge. (Sold in ¼ pound squares, if you bought a pound @ $9.99, you were entitled to ½ pound free!) We got to tell the store clerks and a couple of shoppers about each dog, and in turn heard about their rescued dogs.
We had decided that we wanted to see more of Bisbee, and even of Douglas, so we drove back the way we had come, on Highway 80. We enjoyed the steep, winding drive down through the charming old city of Bisbee … Victorian style houses built up on cliffs, inviting bed and breakfast hotels, tempting boutique shops and restaurants. We stopped and got the dogs out at the viewing area for the Lavender pit mine to get a better look and to read some of the posted historical data.
Back in Douglas, Charlie wanted to visit his grandparents’ graves. Charlie remembered where the cemetery was and we found the graves rather quickly … due south of the center flagpole, about half the way in that section, and three rows back. There were silk flowers at the headstone. We also located Grandma Bull’s sister Grace Pearce’s grave and Miss Suplee’s on the next row back.
As we had planned, we ate supper in the beautiful, historic Gadsden Hotel. We parked in the shade on the main street to leave the dogs in the car. As we got out, a man walking past said, “Lucky dogs … they get to ride in a Cadillac!” Dinner was very pleasant. We reminisced about our many memories of Douglas. We especially recalled the many times we took Mary Louise Robb to dinner or breakfast at the hotel. How she loved butter! Three National Guardsmen from Maine were having dinner in the restaurant, and we stopped and talked to them. They’re helping build the fence across our southern border. We thanked them for their service.
The dogs had behaved beautifully, staying in the car. They needed a break, so we went to the very nice, large 15th Avenue Park where we immediately attracted a crowd of sweet children wanting to know about, pet, and hold our dogs. It took much longer than we had expected, but the dogs enjoyed themselves.
It was now getting late. Our trip home was uneventful except that we had to stop twice to take naps because we were both too tired to drive. Each nap refreshed us enough to drive further safely and we got home about 1:00 a.m.
The dogs had had a great time, and we had had a wonderful, satisfying trip.
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