On April 28th, 2007, our community lost a very dear and loyal friend. On that day, Margaret Magnus passed away.
The purpose of this article is to pay tribute to the very productive life of Margaret Magnus, her struggles and accomplishments, but most of all to celebrate her love for her family and her community.
Margaret Mary Mannion came to this country from County Galway in Ireland when she was fourteen years old. She lived in Pelham, NY, with her Aunt Rita. It was hard for Margaret in the beginning, but she caught on fast. She managed to realize her American dream of becoming a nurse by taking advantage of our excellent school system. She educated herself by earning her baccalaureate degree from Incarnate Word College and her Master's and PhD from the Catholic University of America. She became a tenured professor at Hunter-Bellevue School of Nursing where she taught for more than 25 years. Her specialties included nursing informatics, medical-surgical nursing, educational administration, instructional design, and nursing research.
Monsignor Sivillo of OLH Catholic Church eulogized Margaret and told the story of how she met her husband over 37 years ago. It went like this: Margaret was in her car, the car got a flat tire, and a Good Samaritan, Joseph Magnus, happened to be riding by. He stopped, changed Margaret’s tire and they ended up living happily ever after! Theirs was a happy union which produced their beautiful daughter, Tanya.
Margaret was an active member of the Juniper Park Civic Association, serving as our Secretary for several years. She was also a member of Community Board 5 of Queens but had to leave that assignment when her beloved “Joe” suffered a stroke. At that point, Margaret did what she did best – lovingly and devotedly, she nursed and nurtured him back to health. Joe thrived with Margaret’s tender care and is currently doing very well, having been rehabilitated to the maximum of his capabilities.
In her eulogy to her Mom, Tanya made a point of mentioning how much Margaret had loved her son-in-law, Chris Hoos, and also her dog, Misty. Many times I would see Margaret walking Misty and theirs was the typical human/canine devotion that we have all experienced. In fact, Tanya jokingly stated that they thought Margaret loved the dog more than anyone else!
Tanya also reminisced about her Mom’s style of discipline. When Tanya did something that “Mom” did not approve of, her signature statement in her stern, disciplinarian voice was, “Tanya, that is not acceptable!” Tanya states that those words would stop her in her tracks and continued to send shivers down her spine well into her adult years.
Tanya also recalled how her Mom loved to write Community Spotlights for the Juniper Berry. In particular, she focused on our local 105-year old celebrity, Carl Berner, whom she lovingly referred to as “my boyfriend.”
I could go on talking about Margaret Magnus to fill most of this issue of the Juniper Berry. I think what I have written will give you a sense of Margaret Magnus, the woman. Despite her academic accomplishments she was a warm, loving, down-to-earth woman and her passing has cast a huge shadow over our neighborhood. Many times when I would send her an e-mail notifying her of a pending meeting, she would respond with a friendly, “Keep up the good work, Lorraine.” Always thoughtful, always encouraging, are the words that best personify Margaret Magnus.
I will end this tribute to Margaret with a segment from Tanya’s eulogy to her. When Tanya referred to Margaret as her “mommy,” there wasn’t a dry eye in the church:
“As you can see, this woman was my friend, my confidant, my ‘mommy,’ the first one I would call with good news, a juicy piece of gossip, or when I was in distress. I really truly have few regrets about the time we were blessed to spend with each other on this earth. I am just so sorry that we did not have more time and she has surely been taken away too soon. But as she used to say, “This is all somehow part of the grand cosmic design.” I will miss her for the rest of my life and carry her strength and her energy and her spirit around with her in my heart.”
Dear friend, Margaret Magnus, rest in peace.