On Wednesday, Aug. 14, 2019, in Pullman, the sowers of seeds began their harvest in the rich fields along McGreevy Road. Outside, large machines shaved huge swaths of pale yellow wheat from the hillsides, while filling the valley with the echoing roar of their engines. Inside, Margaret Mary Meagher McGreevy lay in bed in her home of 51 years, eyes closed, breath shallow, surrounded by her family. She was listening to them sing songs and share words of gratitude and love in shaky, emotion-choked voices. At 11:51 p.m., her body exhaled its last breath and her spirit, “pure and innocent and just as God intended it to be,” was released.
Margaret, 85, was born in Ellensburg, Wash., to Agnes (Heraty) and Martin Meagher on Nov. 23, 1933. She was raised on a farm southwest of town. When not in school, her days were spent working in the family’s orchard and tending to their many animals. She was especially fond of their horses and mules. This fondness, and the equestrian skill set she developed along the way, earned her a crown as the Ellensburg Rodeo Queen in 1952.
Margaret’s love of animals led her to Washington State College in Pullman, where she studied animal science. While there, she met a handsome young man named Daniel McGreevy. There was an immediate attraction and they had much in common, but the fact they were born on the same day of the same year seemed like fate. The two fell in love, became engaged, and proclaimed their marriage vows in 1954 on their shared 21st birthday.
The couple moved to Georgia for a brief time, where Dan served in the Army and Margaret began raising their children. The family eventually moved back to Pullman, where they rooted themselves deeply in the community and the rolling hills of the Palouse.
Though much of Margaret’s energy was invested in raising her nine children, she was a voracious reader and lifelong learner. Newspapers, magazines, books ... the written word was her passport to the world. She thought deeply about local, national, and international issues, politics, science, the environment, education, faith, religion and human relationships. She was an endlessly interesting conversationalist because she was so well-read and so curious. Family and friends often left a visit with Margaret with the gift of a newspaper clipping or magazine article that she was sure would interest them or help them see something in a new way.
She loved music, art, poetry, film and theatre. She spent many a Saturday sequestered in the basement blissfully listening to the weekly radio broadcast from the Metropolitan Opera while folding a mountain of laundry. She bought the all-access pass to the annual University of Idaho Jazz Festival and attended every lecture, master class and performance possible. She was a longtime season-ticket-holding patron of the Idaho Repertory Theatre, Washington Stat University’s Summer Palace and, more recently, the Regional Theatre of the Palouse. She deeply valued the cultural opportunities provided by the two local university communities and leveraged them enthusiastically to broaden her children’s views of the world. Despite their whining protests, she herded them into countless art exhibits, concerts, plays and dance performances. Her commitment to cultural exposure eventually paid off as all her adult children are now great appreciators and supporters of the arts, and many of her grandchildren are artists and performers in their own right.
Margaret collected cookbooks, enjoyed studying them, and delighted in the culinary creations they inspired. She made tens of thousands of meals over the years and believed food shared by family, friends or community deepened our connection to one another. Her love-infused meals were the foundation of a sacred space, where her children learned to engage, listen, share, laugh and tell blatantly embellished but highly entertaining stories.
Margaret was an active community member and leader. She had a heart for social justice based on a belief that every voice has a right to be heard and every person deserves a place at the table. She was especially interested in women’s empowerment and equality. In 1989, she launched a successful campaign to become the first Democrat in 38 years to serve as a Whitman County commissioner. She was also the first woman EVER elected to that office, a distinction she happily shared with fellow commissioner Nora Mae Keifer. Though an introvert by nature, Margaret knocked on every door in the county, personally, in her quest to break this glass ceiling.
Margaret was deeply perceptive, remarking with awe about the shades of blue in the sky, the smell of freshly baked bread, the juicy flavor of a sun-ripened peach, the playfulness of calves in the pasture and the joy that comes from wearing a new pair of socks. She seemed to sense the creator’s loving intent in everything around her, including people. Margaret was a curator of deep, loving friendships that transcended time, distance and circumstance.
Margaret, preceded in death by her husband, Dan, is survived by her brother, Thomas (Alberta) Meagher; her nine children: Rebecca (Joe) Francik, Timothy (Priya/Christine), Elizabeth (Guy) Peckham, Satya/Marianne, Edward (Allison), Dennis (Tammy), James (Bridget), Helen (John) Quirk and Brandon (Amber); and many grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
Surely, the sower of the seed that became Margaret’s life is delighted in the bounty of this harvest. Margaret showed all what a life well-lived looks like. And now, she is home.
All are invited to celebrate Margaret’s life at the 1912 Center at 412 East Third St., Moscow, ID 83843 on Saturday, Aug. 31, at 2 p.m. and will be followed by a light, love-infused meal. The family asks that you gift them with your stories or memories of Margaret in writing. If you cannot attend the service, please send your stories to Margaret’s granddaughter, Anna Francik, 3114 West Wilcox Drive, Pasco, WA 99301.
In the spirit of her lifelong passion for courageous creators of art, those wishing to make a memorial donation in her name are invited to support her grandson Kadin McGreevy’s nonprofit theater company, which is devoted to furthering community inclusivity and connection. The Neighborhood Theatre Chicago, 1431 W. Carmen Ave. No. 2B, Chicago IL, 60640, www.theneighborhoodtheatrechicago.com.