Marjorie M. Wagstaffe
Nov. 11, 1928 - Feb. 23, 2021
Marjorie Mary Thompson was born on November 11, 1928 at St Paul's Hospital in Manila, The Philippines to Alice Antoinette Jones and Merville (Tommy) Judd Thompson. The second of six children in her large, tight-knit family, Margie was named for her paternal aunt Marjorie and was raised in Manila. Her family had the intention of moving back to the United States, but plans were interrupted by the outbreak of World War Two.
The family enjoyed a very social way of life with Sunday evenings spent at the Elks Club for dinner, where her father was the manager. She was halfway through the 7th grade when Japan attacked Pearl Harbor. December 8, 1941, the day after the attack was a clear day in her memory. Her family was on their way to Sunday Mass, which they attended together weekly. As word of the attack on Pearl Harbor spread among their friends and neighbors, so did the fear that the Philippines would be attacked next. As suspected, the Japanese planes came at midnight and the air raid sirens sounded as the planes appeared and the family sought safety. The air raids continued and when the Philippine island of Corregidor fell to enemy forces, Americans and their allies in Manila were told to report to Santo Tomas Internment Camp. Ultimately, her family was interred at Santo Tomas as prisoners of war. While women and children were later released from the camp, Tommy was kept there until General McArthur's famous return liberated him.
Near the end of the war Marjorie's brother Stan and uncle Frank were wounded by shrapnel from enemy mortar, which lead to the family returning to the United States by hospital ship. They spent 35 days at sea and landed in the port of San Francisco, where they were met by family members.
Beginning their post-war return to the United States and a new life, her family ended up living in Eugene, Oregon. The people of the community were incredibly kind and generous to the Thompson family, knowing the hardships that they had endured during the war. She was very grateful for that experience and the kindness of strangers.
Upon graduation from St Mary's High School, Margie went to First National Bank of Oregon and got a job, determined to build her future. She said that job was where she "really came alive." Being gregarious and magnetic, she made many friends and truly enjoyed her work; opening new accounts and working with the public. When one of her coworkers at the bank said that she was planning a move to San Francisco, Margie loved the idea and decided that she would go too, much to her parents' chagrin. So, at age 21, she made her way to San Francisco to begin a new adventure. She was able to stay at her great uncle's home until she could find a place of her own. Her goal was to work for Crocker Bank but there was not a job opening when she arrived. Always one to pursue her goals until she achieved them, she waited. Each day when she walked home from work, she would stop at the Catholic church along the way, Notre Dame Des Victoires and say a prayer. She eventually did get that job at Crocker Bank. And she loved it – she always spoke fondly of her time in San Francisco.
An active member of Old St Mary's Center in San Francisco, she met handsome bachelor, William (Bill) Wagstaffe there and they shared their first date at an East West Shriners football game at Kezar Stadium on New Year's Day 1955. They were married at Old St Mary's on February 11, 1956 and Margie and Bill settled on the Peninsula, first in Atherton and then in Menlo Park to raise their growing family. She was happily married to Bill for 56 years, until his death in 2012.
Anyone who knew Margie knew her bright spirit, friendly nature and astounding tenacity to not give up when she had her mind set on something. In addition to devoting time and energy to raising her family, Margie volunteered for many charitable organizations, the Peninsula Volunteers, Atherlons and Oakwood Auxiliary, among her favorites. When local landmark Douglas Hall was in danger of being demolished, she was instrumental in raising funds and awareness to save the historic building from destruction. It was one of her proudest accomplishments. Active in politics, she served as President of the Peninsula Republican Women, in addition to other positions within the organization. She was passionate about life and art in all its expressions. She created beautiful paintings. Music was always playing in her house, especially classical, and she was a gifted pianist. She loved to dance and she sang in the choir at St. Raymond Church.
When asked recently about the things that she was most proud of in her life, she said that everything she has gone through has been special. That was her true spirit – to take every element of her life and find meaning and purpose. Her fascinating stories, readiness for adventure and contagious laugh are just a few things that will be missed by all who knew and loved her. Most importantly, her strong faith set an enduring example for her family and will give them strength when they miss her.
Marjorie is the beloved mother to five children: Paul, Annmarie, Rosemary (Roger), Skip (Lisa), and Eileen (Jeff). Her twelve grandchildren and their spouses, Ryan, Perry (Andrea), Rachel, Julie (Howie), Lindsey (Jonathan), Rebecca,
Roxanne, William, Tori, Audrey, Jessi, and Ashley will miss their "Mimi"
tremendously. As will her great grandson, Ronen Lee.
Margie will hold a special place in the hearts of her many nieces and nephews.
She is survived by her sister Clare and brother Merv. She was preceded in death by her brothers Johnny and Stanley, and sister Georgie.
A funeral mass is scheduled for Friday, March 5th at 11am at The Church of
the Nativity, 210 Oak Grove Avenue, Menlo Park. Private burial in Menlo Park will follow.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Oakwood Auxiliary and Ave Maria University.
A memorial tribute will be held for Marjorie at a later date