Margie Ford

  • "Goodbye Margie. You were a great blessing to us all here..."
    - Tom Cobb
  • "OMG Margie, I can't believe you are gone. You were such an..."
    - Cookie Evans
  • "I miss you every day, Dear Margie. I'm so glad to have had..."
    - Jackie Crockett

Margie Ford
age 65, died peacefully on December 6, 2010, surrounded by dear friends and family. She carried her convictions as a peace activist into her relationship with cancer, writing, "If the concept of non-violence means anything, it has to be applicable to every level of life. From international relations to politics, from community to family, from others to self, from small occurrences of daily life to dramatic incidents of disease. Even cancer." Born and raised in East Oakland, CA, Margie was exposed to social justice as a small child, accompanying her grandfather each week in the family Woody as he picked up donuts to distribute at a shelter for the homeless. In 1967, as a twenty-two year old newlywed in Georgia, she worked by day as Coretta Scott King's personal secretary, and by night taught a social studies class to poor Southern whites outraged by everything Martin Luther King represented. "Each day with Mrs. King, I absorbed more of what Dr. King taught--that non-violent resistance was grounded in dignity which transcended insult, rooted in strengths so deep they had to be spiritual. We were all God's children. Even me. Even bigots. I began to see my students' ignorance as a kind of innocence and judged them, and ultimately myself, less harshly." Through reading the Constitution, Margie and her students explored each other's values, and by the end of the semester found that "(their) willingness to learn, to be reached, to take in this strange Yankee had matched my own willingness to know and accept who (they) were." Margie had a great passion for justice. She was drawn to difficult issues and cared about all people, even those she disagreed with. By respectfully and carefully listening to all sides, she fostered discussions that began peacemaking. Immediately after 9/11 she initiated interfaith dialogues at Southside Presbyterian Church, and brought many in her church and community to a deeper understanding of the Palestine/Israel conflict. After working for thirty years as a teacher, health educator, healthcare manager, and university administrator, in 1998 Margie earned a Master's Degree in Counseling, going on to graduate from the Academy of Guided Imagery in 2008. Margie thrived as a writer and psychotherapist in Tucson and Mt. Lemmon, AZ; San Diego, CA; and Princeville, HI. In addition she volunteered as a CASA volunteer, a guide at the KARE Family Center and Stars Mentoring Project, and as a deacon at Southside Presbyterian Church. Margie served as an extremely effective Court Appointed Special Advocate for children, establishing relationships with children in crisis that continued long past their day in the court. At 38, Margie had her first encounter with breast cancer. He daughter Michelle says, "What she wanted most was normalcy: to make me lunch and pick me up at the bus stop and go to my soccer games -- those everyday things were what she cherished. She hated the cancer but saw its blessing: that it makes you realize the beauty in life." After fifteen cancer-free years filled with activism, education, and friendship, Margie had a recurrence in 1998, soon after her granddaughter Ellie was born. Not expecting to live more than two years, she wrote a journal for Ellie, telling her everything her Nani thought she should know, including this advice on men: "Stick with men that love you truly and be wary of men who just need you. And if you don't get it right the first time, get it right eventually." Margie was truly loved by her husband, Frank, whom she met in 1989 while shuttling a car full of hikers to the Sutherland trail. That morning she cracked a joke and he busted up laughing, a pattern repeated many times in the ensuing twenty-two years. Soul mates, playmates, partners, lovers and friends, they lived their lives with a blend of individuality and connectedness, filling it with friends, discovery and adventure. Seeing her daughter Michelle flourish professionally and personally gave Margie great pleasure, as did their deepening relationship as adults. She loved her son-in-law Bill's gift of beingness, his competence, and his smile. Watching grandchildren Ellie and Quinn develop and grow was a joy that delighted and sustained her. "I love my life," she recently told her friend Dorsett. "I'm doing the things that are important to me, and I've eliminated the others." Margie had inner strength, not an in-your-face strength. Her deep compassion and wisdom were not the gifts of an easy life; they were hard-earned and generously shared. She had continuous strength for her own battles and the battles of others. When she heard a story or deed that spoke of kindness and justice, Margie rejoiced. Margie pursued the truth honestly, frankly, and humorously, whether about her family, her relationship to her body, or her relationship to the world and what was right. Her clear vision, her utter devotion to the beauty in life, and her love of Frank and Michelle and her grandchildren helped sustain her over recent years checkered with illness and pain. Margie was a no-nonsense, straightforward kind of girl, yet lived lofty values and convictions and performed deeds that go beyond what most people attempt in their lives. Above everything Margie was courageous. She knew how to live mindfully with joy and freedom, and how to love and be loved deeply. Thank you, Margie, for all that you have been for us and all that you have helped us be. In addition to her husband, Frank Stangel, Margie is survived by her daughter, Michelle Crow; her son-in-law, Bill Mark; her grandchildren, Ellie and Quinn and her sister, Marilyn Unruh. A celebration of Margie's life will be held at 2:00 p.m. on Saturday, January 15, 2011 at Southside Presbyterian Church, 317 W. 23rd, Tucson, AZ 85713. In lieu of flowers, donations may be sent to Southside Presbyterian Church. Arrangements handled by U of A Willed Body Program.
Published in the Arizona Daily Star from Jan. 3 to Jan. 4, 2011
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