Margaret Arbuckle Baldwin, 98, of Great Falls, a devoted homemaker, mother and grandmother, died of natural causes Saturday, July 7, at Benefis Extended Care Center.
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A celebration of life is 4 p.m. Saturday, August 4, at the Milwaukee Depot gardens, Sight and Sound Park at 201 River Drive North. All who knew Margaret or her family are welcome to attend. O'Connor Funeral Home handled the arrangements.
Margaret Arbuckle Baldwin, the youngest child of eight children, was born January 28, 1914, to George Lee and Catherine Maud (Boland) Arbuckle. The family lived on the Arbuckle Ranch two miles north of Albion. Her father was a cowboy in the late 1800s and later a rancher that "proved up" to what is now known as the Arbuckle Ranch, and her mother was a school teacher and businesswoman in Belle Fourche, S.D. Margaret began her school years at the Albion country school until she was in the third or fourth grade and then "boarded out" to attend school in Spearfish, S.D. Margaret attended Spearfish Normal School, a college training grade school and high school. She spoke fondly about being part of the curriculum with all the student teachers. She went home to the Arbuckle Ranch during holidays and summer breaks. Margaret graduated from high school in 1932 and went back to live and work on the Arbuckle Ranch.
Margaret enjoyed recounting stories of her life on the ranch. She helped her mother around the house, "put up" produce from the vegetable garden and cooked meals for the ranch hands and family. Country dances were special events during the 1930s, and it was at one dance in the area where she met her husband of 37 years.
Margaret married Clarence J. Baldwin in 1939 in Chadron, Neb. and lived in Hot Springs, S.D. They moved to Great Falls in 1942 where they spent their remaining years. The couple had six children. Margaret was a devoted homemaker, mother and grandmother. Their house was always filled with kids, family and friends. She welcomed everyone and delighted in their company. As her granddaughter observed, her care, nurturing and strength contributed to her children's sense of integrity, thoughtfulness, and purpose. She had a way of making all of her children and grandchildren alike feel special and important to her.
Margaret was a wonderful cook and her family and friends recall her specialties that can't be duplicated. Her home was warm with hospitality and delicious dishes. In semi-retirement Margaret enjoyed working for her daughter, Sherrill Halbe, for 20 seasons at Girdle Mountain Summer House Restaurant in Belt, prepping vegetables, peeling garlic and making her fabulous angel food cakes.
Margaret and Clarence enjoyed traveling with the family. Every summer a vacation was scheduled for sightseeing to one state or another. The long road trips were rewarded with museums, amusement parks and professional ball games that rounding out the children's education. After Clarence passed away in 1976, Margaret continued to travel with her children to many of the 50 states, including Hawaii and Alaska. She also traveled to Japan, Australia, the Caribbean, Mexico, and to many countries in Europe. In her 90s, she traveled to Alaska with her niece, Kay Craig, to visit relatives.
When Margaret was in her 60s she took up walking for exercise and loved to walk in the neighborhood or venture across town to visit friends or do errands. In addition to being lifelong friends, her neighbors were also her walking buddies. She participated in the Jeannette Rankin Runs, winning ribbons and certificates in her age group. She enjoyed watching sports and loved to attend local football games. Margaret never missed a game or match when one of her family members was participating in the sporting event. She visited the site of the 1998 Winter Olympic Games in Nagano, Japan, and later attended the 2002 Winter Olympic Games in Salt Lake City.
Margaret kept active and remained curious throughout her life. She was a constant reader of a variety of subjects. Throughout her senior years, she spoke highly of her loving and supporting network of relatives, neighbors and friends in Great Falls. She loved to talk on the telephone and kept all of us up to date with the local news. Before signing off on the telephone, she would always say "well, thanks for calling" with a little higher tone in her voice, leaving us with a warm feeling about the conversation. During her 90s, she enjoyed going to the Senior Citizens Center to listen to music, play bingo and visit with friends. She lived on her own until she was 95 years old, then moved to The Lodge, and later to the Benefis Extended Care Center in Great Falls. She was surrounded by her family and community of friends when she passed away on July 7, 2012.
Margaret is cherished for her kind, generous and cheerful character. She loved sharing stories and had an infectious giggle that made everyone feel good. She was a fierce defender of the "underdog," which was matched by her sense of fairness and justice. Her integrity and good nature carried her gracefully to the end of her life. Even though she appeared to live an ordinary life, she was extraordinary in many ways.
Margaret is survived by her five children and spouses Sherrill J. (Steve) Halbe, Larry J. Baldwin, Sandy S. (William M.) Brown, Scott D. (Wendy) Baldwin and Mark D. Baldwin; her ten grandchildren, Kelli R. Gannon, Michelle D. Sanchez, Garric P. Rector, Denise M. Halbe, Bryan J. Baldwin, Matthew R. Baldwin, Whitney S. Gray, Gabriel M. Brown, Donovan S. Baldwin and Megan R. Baldwin; eight great-grandchildren, Sean Gannon, Aaron Gannon, Elia Sanchez, Natalie Rector, Tessa Rector, Kai Baldwin, Katherine Baldwin and Hailee Baldwin; and many nieces, nephews, and their children and grandchildren.
Margaret was preceded in death by her husband, Clarence J. Baldwin; son, Randy K. Baldwin; parents, George L. and Catherine M. Arbuckle; and siblings, Pamelia Arbuckle Sloan, George L. Arbuckle Jr., John Arbuckle, Frank Arbuckle, William ("Bill") Arbuckle, James Arbuckle and Catherine Arbuckle Kirkham.
The family would like to thank the staff and volunteers at The Lodge, Benefis Extended Care Center and Aging Services for their compassion and helpfulness.
Donations can be made in Margaret's name to River's Edge Trail, PO Box 553, Great Falls, Montana, 59403.
The historic 10th Street Bridge will be lit on August 4, 2012, in her memory.
Condolences may be posted online at www.gftribune.com/obituaries.
Published in Great Falls Tribune on July 29, 2012