Margaret Gardiner

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MARGARET GARDINER Our beloved and loving mother and retired homemaker, Margaret Gardiner, Topeka, passed away gently at Midland Hospice Care Center after a very brief illness. She was 85. Margaret was born in The Royal Maternity Hospital in Edinburgh, Scotland, a city in which her father s ancestors had been associated for 250 years. Her father, James Grant, who fought with the Highland light infantry in the First World War, was, like his father, Grandfather Grant, several uncles and grand uncles, and cousins, was a (interior) housepainter journeyman (and decorator), and was, like his Grandfather Grant, who made models of many famous castles, palaces, etc., that endured at least to the 1960s, artistic, and like Grandfather Howat, good with his hands. He made a dollhouse and all its furnishings for his daughter that was the envy of all her friends. Her mother, nee, Minnie Rogers, a native of Somersetshire, England, was a woman of great faith and a righteous woman. From infancy on, Margaret lived with her parents and older brothers, and later her younger sister, in a 1790s Georgian tenement close to the University of Edinburgh s main buildings. One day in the late 1930s, Margaret and her little sister, Chrissy, attired in new pink dresses, walked up to the Royal Mile to see the Royal family progress down to Holyrood Palace on its annual summer visit to the Scottish capital. To their surprise, Princess Elizabeth and Princess Margaret, were also wearing pink dresses, and Elizabeth was holding an armful of pink roses from which she was throwing individual stems to various members of the crowd of well wishers. She threw one that landed at Margaret s feet. (Yes, she took it home and pressed it in a book; no, she does not still have it.) At the onset of WWII (Sept. 1939) Margaret s family moved to a new housing development in the then-Edinburgh suburb, Craigmillar, and after the Phony War, became accustomed to near-nightly visits to the air raid shelter and to wartime rationing. She left school (graduated) from Niddrie Marischal Secondary School in Craigmillar in July 1941 at age 14, and went to work as a salesgirl for Young Brothers Bakery, where she stayed two years before going to work as a server at Mackie s, a renowned Princes Street establishment containing coffee and tea shops and a traditional restaurant. At a supervisor s urging, Margaret trained to be a hostess in the catering business, and thereafter became a member of Mackie s catering team, her favorite job of all. She never forgot the day at Mackie s while waiting for a lift (elevator) the doors opened and there stood Sir Lawrence Olivier and his then wife, Vivien Leigh, and she certainly never forgot the day when she was watching a dog fight overhead between a British and a German pilot and received a piece of shrapnel in her leg as a permanent souvenir of the war. At the beginning of the war, Margaret s oldest brother, James, was drafted at the beginning of the war and made a medic in the army, and in May 1941, when her elder brother, Tom turned 17, he enlisted in the Royal Navy. Margaret too, wanted to do her part in the war effort, and she and her cousin, Ella Grant, decided they would enlist in the Women s Royal Naval Service when they turned 18 in 1945, but VE-Day occurred on May 8, 17 days before Margaret s birthday so she did not enlist. At the end of the war (VJ-Day or later), she met an American serviceman who was on furlough, Raymond Gardiner, from Denison, Kansas, at a Red Cross-sponsored dance, and emigrated to the United States in January 1948 to marry him. They were married January 24, by Rev. Travis Siever in the Methodist Church parsonage at Holton, and began married life on a rented farm near Denison. Following renovation of the farmhouse (Raymond s birthplace) on his father s farm west of Denison, Raymond and Margaret moved in in August to call it home for the next 45 years. There, Raymond established a first-rate Grade A dairy operation and they raised their two children. Due to a heart condition, Raymond was forced into early retirement, and then became interested in breaking and training mini-mules for maneuvers with a fifth-wheel hitch in the show ring, and for the next twelve years they were on the show circuit every weekend, usually in Missouri, with Raymond eventually winning more than 100 first prize awards and the grand championships of several states. After some initial doubts, Margaret found that she enjoyed this gypsy life-looking forward to preparing and freezing meals for thawing and eating while on the road as much as meeting and making new friends and seeing new country. Thanks to neighbors who often included Margaret in their travels and Church bus trips, she got to see much of the United States. She was also able to make several trips back to her native land. Besides travel, she enjoyed reading, walking, crocheting and knitting, at which she was adroit; she was an excellent cook, a gracious hostess, and was well known for her winsome ways and loved by everyone who ever met her. When the time came to retire, they purchased Margaret s dream house in Holton, auctioned off the farm machinery and the farm, and settled into retirement in the county seat, where they became involved with the local senior citizens center. After her husband s death, Margaret decided she would like to live closer to her son in the San Francisco Bay Area, so in 2004 she and her daughter, Jan, moved to Castro Valley, Calif., but not being able to replicate their Kansas lives there, they returned to Topeka in 2006. Appropriately, Margaret s first religious instruction came from her mother, in the home and she attended Church of Scotland (Presbyterian) Sunday Schools as a girl and on November 14, 1943, she joined the Bristo Memorial Church (of Scotland) in Craigmillar; after she married, she and Raymond joined the (now former) Denison Methodist Episcopal Church and she taught the first-grade Sunday School class in the Denison Union Church for nine years; attended the Evangel United Methodist Church while living in Holton; attended Eden United Church of Christ in Hayward, Calif.(The last Sunday she went to church there, prior to moving back to Kansas the organist honored her with playing a hymn tune Allen had composed and dedicated to her.); and First Presbyterian Church and First Congregational Church since moving to Topeka. Her Christian faith sustained her all her life and she considered Jesus the Christ to be her Lord and Savior. She was a righteous woman, always doing the right thing at the right time, never bragging or boasting or expecting a reward. If she had one abiding credo, it will be found embedded in the poem Pass It On . She had belonged to the Cloverleaf Club in Jackson County, two Bible Study groups in Denison, and for many years was a mainstay at the Topeka Saint Andrew (Scottish) Society s bimonthly meetings. She never forgot her Ain countrie, every afternoon having a cup of tea and a chocolate biscuit. She loved flowers and all the little live things. She was preceded in death by her husband, Raymond Gardiner on Feb. 14, 2003; her parents; and a brother, Tom R. Brodie. She is survived by the loves of her life-her daughter and companion, Jan Gardiner, and Nana s confidant, Elizabeth T. Cat, of the home, and a son, Allen Gardiner, Hayward, Calif.; and a young church friend, Jerry, who told her in 2004 she was and would always be [his] second mother ; grandchildren Jan s adopted daughter Vanessa, and Allen s unofficially adopted three sons,(Anton, Jayson, and Ankur), and four daughters, (Angelica, Regina, May, and Paula) sister, Christina Grant Curtis, and brother, James E. Brodie, both of Edinburgh, Scotland, sister-in-law Ann Brodie, Elizabeth, Colo.; and three nieces, Lorraine (Brian) Slow and Jaqueline Brodie, Edinburgh, Scotland, and Bonnie Brodie, Denver, Colo.; and three nephews, Brian (Debbie)Brodie, Edinburgh, Scotland, Roger Brodie, Denver, Colo., and James Scot (Roxanne) Brodie, San Francisco, Calif.; several grand nieces and nephews; and other relatives. Funeral services will be 1:00 p.m. Friday, April 12, 2013 at the Mercer Funeral Home in Holton. Burial will be in the Denison Cemetery. Family will greet friends one hour prior to service time at the funeral home. A Celebration of Life memorial service will be held later when Margaret s son, Allen, who is partially disabled from a stroke, is able to travel. Memorial contributions may be made to Beck-Bookman Library, Holton, the Denison Historical Society or Midland Hospice House in care of Mercer Funeral Home, Box 270, Holton, Kansas 66436. To leave a special message for the family, please visit Margaret Gardiner
Published in Topeka Capital-Journal on Apr. 10, 2013