Margaret MacKellar Woods died Saturday, May 11 in Bozeman, surrounded by her children.
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Margaret was born in 1921 in Charlottesville, Va. She was the eldest of three daughters of William and Jean MacKellar. William was a Scot who had a distinguished career with the Royal Dutch Shell Oil Company starting as an office boy in Glasgow. Jean was a Virginian descended from the earliest settlers. Margaret grew up as an international child, living with her parents in Venezuela and the Canary Islands. She received her education in an English boarding school, traveling at a very young age to and from England on the mail boats and visiting her mother's side of the family in Charlottesville from time to time. After completing school, she went to France to continue her education.
At the onset of World War II Margaret fled Europe on a Dutch ship leaving for the Canary Islands. Upon reaching the United States in 1940, she went to work for the British Embassy in Washington, D.C. She kept a diary of those dramatic events which was published as a book entitled "My War Diary" in 2010.
While in Charlottesville she met her future husband, Francis Woods. When Francis returned unscathed from the attack on Pearl Harbor, he asked for her hand in marriage. They married in Charlottesville in September 1942. Francis and Margaret spent their early married years in Albany, N.Y. where Francis practiced architecture and joined the faculty of the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. While raising a growing family of five children, Margaret still made time to manage Hansea, the Scandinavian store they founded in Albany. In 1956 they spent a sabbatical year in England and Austria. They then left Albany for the town of Kinderhook, N.Y. where two more sons were born and they lived happily for many years. Many vacations were spent in the family houses in Mad River Glen, Vt., designed and built by Francis with the help of Margaret's eye for interior design.
After spending a second sabbatical year in New Zealand in 1970, Margaret and Francis moved their family to Bozeman, when Francis accepted a teaching position in the School of Architecture at the University of Montana. Margaret chose to continue her education earning a B.A. and M.A. in history from MSU. After graduating she became Curator of Textiles at the Museum of the Rockies. While there, she curated many memorable exhibits. She greatly admired Dr. Caroline McGill, the museum's founder and published a book and produced a film on Dr. McGill. In 2010 Margaret was awarded the title of Curator Emeritus for her 25 years of service to the museum.
Margaret was proud of her fluency in French and Spanish. She was an avid reader, an intrepid traveler, a skilled gardener, a graceful skier, an extraordinary cook, a delightful conversationalist and an inspirational mother.
Margaret leaves a loving family of one daughter, Margaret, and five sons, Francis, Thomas, Adam, Ian and Nicholas, one granddaughter and seven grandsons, six great-grandchildren and her two sisters, Jean Marshall of Charlottesville, Va. and Polly Rankin of Cape Town, South Africa. Her son, Nathaniel, and an infant daughter, Charlotte, died before her, as did Francis, her beloved husband of more than 50 years.
A celebration of her life will take place in September in Bozeman. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to Hospice of Southwest Montana.
Published in Bozeman Daily Chronicle from May 14 to May 19, 2013