Margaret M. Stiffler Margaret Martin Stiffler, known to friends as "Peg," passed away in Tacoma on June 6th, 2013. On August 31, 1941, Margaret Hughes Martin was born to John H. and Effie (Hughes) Martin in Paducah KY. She often spoke of her "idyllic childhood" growing up in Kentucky, making lifelong friends and participating in Girl Scouts and other outdoor activities, especially those involving boating and swimming. After graduating in 1959 from Paducah Tilghman high school, Peg enrolled in Grinnell College in Iowa, a choice she always called the best decision of her life. She graduated from Grinnell with a B.A. in Biology in 1963, and was elected to Phi Beta Kappa scholastic honor society. That summer Peg and her college sweetheart, Charles Joseph Stiffler, were married in Paducah. They settled in Chicago where Peg was a laboratory assistant at Northwestern University and Joe worked as a designer at a major department store. After a few years in the big city, they happily accepted an offer to return to Grinnell, where both would be employed by their much-loved alma mater. They traveled around the country on behalf of Grinnell College, communicating with prospective students and alumni. Joe returned from one such trip to western Washington, saying to Peg, "That is the most incredible placewe have to move there!" Being adventurous and with ideas for their future, they did just that. Both enrolled at UPS; Peg earned a master's degree in education and began work with the Tacoma school district, and Joe earned an MFA, specializing in pottery. They then opened a store, "The Pottery," in Tacoma's Proctor district. The store featured Joe's pottery, both artistic and functional, and included other art and giftwares. Working nights and weekends after her regular job, Peg kept the books for the store. The success of the Proctor store led to a second store in Lakewood. Many customers became friends for life. Eventually, both Peg and Joe tired of the long hours and stress of operating a small business, so they made the difficult decision to sell it. In the late 70s Peg and Joe divorced amicably, remaining friends always. Peg lived in Tacoma the rest of her life, finding satisfaction in her work as a school counselor. A special companion, Henry ("Hank") Bertness, came into her life and brought her great happiness until his death in 1985. Peg enjoyed travel, notably escaping to warm places during Washington winters, and made several trips to Europe and Mexico. She was active in arts and political communities in Tacoma, most recently serving on the North End Community Council. She was known as never lacking a strong opinion about anything, and being willing to express and fight for her principles! Peg was preceded in death by her parents, her former husband Joe Stiffler, and her special companion Hank Bertness. She is survived by a sister, Susan S. Martin (Mary Anne Stein) of Fort Collins CO; a brother, John H. (Fay) Martin, Jr., of Harvard MA; and two nephews, Zachary Martin of Ames IA, and Jared Martin of Harvard MA. She also is survived by special friends Nancy Allison and John Galvin of Tacoma, and Linda and Jim Palmer of Spanaway. Peg was a true lady and an unforgettable personality; she will be missed by many.
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Published in News Tribune (Tacoma) on June 19, 2013