Margaret “Maggie or Peggy” Louise (Cole) McNeel died on Sunday, Feb. 21, 2010, at her home in Vancouver, Wash. Margaret was born June 6, 1929, at Trout Lake, Wash., to Raymond and Isabelle (Patterson) Cole.
She was naturally athletic, excelling in softball and ping pong during her school years. Margaret worked for the Coate family during high school and traveled with them across the country after graduating in 1947.
Margaret married Robert McNeel Sr. on Aug. 31, 1947, at Trout Lake. After living for a short while at Roy, Wash., and at various locations in Trout Lake, in 1959 they settled with their six children on the Halse dairy farm.
When they were young, Margaret gathered her children on the couch and read to them “Heidi,” and other books; the youngest leaning against her shoulder peering at her finger pointing to the words. The older ones were assigned to look up words in the dictionary. She also taught them how to embroider; and though she didn’t have time to sew herself, both boys and girls learned to use the sewing machine.
Her children remember stopping with their mom by the road to pick dogwood in the spring, exploring old homesteads to find asparagus, and collecting colored leaves in the fall. Every year she trimmed the pink climbing rose that encircled the kitchen window, taking care to preserve a wren’s nest.
Twice a day she milked the cows, and still put home-baked bread on the table. There was always so much work to do that her children were amazed at how fast her fingers flew when they sat with her in the shade, snapping boxes full of green beans from the garden.
After raising her children on the dairy farm — including silently and successfully hounding them all into going to college — Margaret divorced and then lived and worked at Spokane, Wash. Later she moved to Seattle, Wash., to work at Robert McNeel & Associates.
In her semi-retirement years at Vancouver, Wash., she was an avid reader, played the keyboard, journaled daily, and was an energetic hiker traveling on Volkswalks to New Zealand, Iceland, Alaska and the Maritimes in eastern Canada. She was active in local hiking clubs, helping scout out new places to hike.
Margaret’s home was a refuge for her family. On the phone she listened with compassion and offered unfailing support. By choice, she was still working part-time to the end of her life, being devoted to the care of a young boy named Seth.
Margaret is survived by her six children: Margaret Armstrong, Hines, Ore., Robert McNeel, Seattle, Wash., Martha Weekes, Vancouver, Wash., Linda Allen, Charlotte, N.C., Joyce Brooks, Washougal, Wash., and John McNeel, Vancouver, Wash.; 10 grandchildren, seven great-grandchildren, and her siblings Robert Cole, Renton, Wash., Betty Schmid, Trout Lake, Wash., Doris Kahler, Hood River, Ore., Alice Majak, Three Hills, Alberta, Canada, and David Cole, Goldendale, Wash.
Memorial donations may be made to The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (http://pages.teamintraining.org/wa/LkPadden10/smcneel)
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