Margaret Mary Williamson passed away peacefully, surrounded by family, on October 14, 2019, at Methodist Jennie Edmundson Hospital in Council Bluffs, Iowa. She was 87 years old.
Margaret was born on July 19, 1932, near Panama, Iowa; the youngest of four children born to John and Mary Mahlberg. Margaret attended school in Panama through the eighth grade. At age 14, she entered the workforce - as a nanny for a local family – a common arrangement for farmgirls of that time.
In 1952, Margaret married Dale Melby of Soldier, Iowa. They moved to Woodbine, Iowa, where they raised a son, Michael. Later, Margaret married Richard Williamson, and they resided in Harlan, Iowa.
Margaret often spoke with a measure of regret at missing out on a high school education. Those who knew her, though, realized that she had more than made up for that absence through a variety of engaging posts during a career that spanned over 70 years. As her life unfolded across western Iowa – in Panama, Woodbine, Harlan, and Underwood; as well as several years in Bandon, Oregon - Margaret always embraced new opportunities to meet and interact with people. She often reminisced about conversations she had and life-long friends she met as a candy store clerk, a hostess, a motel manager, a bartender, a flower shop proprietor, and years as a waitress, among other jobs.
In 2018, at the age of 86, Margaret was still working several days each week at the local grocery store. Retirement never held any interest to her, as a lifetime of work had offered far too many opportunities for personal enrichment and new friendships to pass up, even later in life.
Away from work, Margaret was known for her love of simple pleasures: a trip to the library, a new recipe, an annual trip to the horse races, holiday family gatherings, and afternoon coffee and conversation with her close friends.
But the one role that Margaret most treasured was that of grandmother and especially, great-grandmother. She doted on her great-grandchildren with singular enthusiasm. The walls of her cozy, long-time home in Woodbine boasted scores of framed photos of them throughout their childhood, and she never missed an opportunity to update guests on her great-grandkids' latest adventures and accomplishments.
As her health declined over her final months, Margaret remarked often on the extraordinary gifts she had been given: a lifetime of good friends, a loving and devoted son, two grandsons with prospering families of their own, and the immense joy of watching all of her great-grandchildren grow into their teenage years and beyond, healthy and happy; and she cherished each and every one of those blessings.
Margaret was preceded in death by her parents, John and Mary Mahlberg, and by three siblings: Mildred Schulte, Evelyn Orr, and John Mahlberg.
She is survived by her son, Mike and Nancy Melby of Soldier, Iowa; two grandsons: Bret and Michelle Melby of Ames, Iowa, and Jason and Amber Melby of New Ulm, Minnesota; a step-grandson: Kyle and Courtney Allen of Westminster, Colorado; a step-granddaughter: Kelli and Chris Beedle of Soldier, Iowa; six great-grandchildren: Haley, Grace, and Ethan Melby of Ames, Iowa, and Reece, Riley, and Rhett Melby of New Ulm Minnesota; and four step-great-grandchildren: Addyson Allen of Westminster, Colorado, and Morgan, Aaron, and Kate Beedle of Soldier, Iowa; as well as numerous extended family, friends, and past co-workers who will remember Margaret for her work ethic, fierce independence, sense of humor, and caring spirit.