She was born Margaret Frances Hunter, on October 2, 1910, in Gage Oklahoma, the second child of Cecil and Martha Hunter. Cecil Hunter was a college-educated man. Margaret said later that her father left Iowa and his chosen profession of school teaching after the death of his beautiful fiancée of diphtheria.
Cecil moved to Oklahoma where he met and married Martha Hunter. Cecil decided to try his hand at farming, and the family eventually settled in Missouri. Margaret later said that although her father was an intelligent, gentle and kind man, his talents did not lie in the direction of farming, although he himself never seemed to realize this. She had an older brother, Tom, a younger sister, Florence, and two younger brothers, Paul and Bob.
Margaret attended a series of small country schools, typically one-room schools where all levels were taught by one dedicated teacher. Margaret enjoyed school and always regretted that she was not allowed to complete the eighth grade, her mother deciding that she was needed at home to help with the harvest. Margaret developed excellent skills as a seamstress and seemed to have a natural knack for making pretty things. When she was about eighteen, she decided to try living in the big city for a while, and moved to St. Louis, Missouri, where she lived with her aunt and uncle. She found work in a tailoring shop. She felt she benefitted from the tutelage of her city relatives, who provided her with the social skills they deemed appropriate for a young lady.
Margaret returned home about two years later and married John Stucke, whom she had known for several years, in 1930. John was a skilled mechanic. They settled in Pineville, Missouri, and had a son, John Calvin, in 1934. Economic times were hard in the Midwest in the early ’30’s, and John felt he could do better for his family by looking elsewhere for employment. Temporarily leaving his wife and young son in Pineville, he went west to California where he found a good job at Bethlehem Steel in South San Francisco. He soon sent for Margaret and John Calvin, and the family settled in Millbrae in 1938. In 1941, John and Margaret had a daughter whom they named Merrilee.
Margaret was a traditional homemaker, centering her attention on being a good wife and mother. She encouraged her children in their schooling, starting their education at home at an early age. Margaret liked to read, and her children became interested in books because of their mother’s interest. During the years that the children were small, it was wartime and it was sometimes challenging to provide for the family, even though John had a good job working in a civilian job considered vital to the nation’s war effort. Margaret was very creative at using available materials (rationing was in effect) to provide for her family. She sewed clothes for herself and her children. She planned meals carefully and always tried to include something that was a “treat.” Dinner for the family meant all four sitting down together at the dining table, with Father at the head of the table. Dinnertime was when the events of the day were discussed together. Reading at the table was not allowed.
Margaret loved music; she had a lovely natural singing voice and often sang familiar hymns and popular songs of the day while she was doing her housework. She managed to obtain a piano and started taking lessons. But when her young daughter also displayed an interest in music, Margaret provided a music teacher for Merrilee, although it meant that Margaret had to give up her lessons. Her children always came first.
Margaret was always hospitable. During the years of World War II, with her two younger brothers in the Service, her home became a stopping place for young soldiers and sailors. She loved family gatherings, delighted in planning social times for friends and family. In those days before television, an evening of fun might mean making homemade ice cream or popping corn over the stove in a long-handled wire popper. Or maybe there would be charades, word games, or board games like checkers. There might be something good on the radio, maybe something silly and funny like “Fibber McGhee and Molly” designed to lighten the tensions of wartime.
Margaret was ever supportive of her children. John Calvin went into retail sales after serving in the Navy Air Force. His five children were a source of great joy for Margaret, who spent endless hours helping granddaughters dress their dolls, telling stores to her grandson, and making clothes for all of them.
Margaret and her daughter Merrilee shared an interest in music. Thanks to her parents’ support and financial sacrifice, Merrilee attended San Francisco State College, acquired a degree in music, and taught music to children for several years. She married to Warren Gibson in 1984, and decided to become a therapist working with disturbed children, completing a Master’s degree in 1995 and obtaining clinical licensure in 1998. Typically, Margaret enthusiastically supported her daughter’s plans, creating wonderful items for use in play therapy: a family of hand puppets, some pretty picture books, several dolls and teddy bears. Partly to honor her parents’ memory, Merrilee earned a Doctor of Psychology degree in 2011.
Margaret Hunter Stucke and John Newton Stucke celebrated their Golden wedding anniversary in 1980. Margaret lost her beloved husband John Stucke in 1984.
Margaret’s Christian faith was strong. Although she discontinued attending church services when her ailing husband needed her attention at home, she read her Bible faithfully first thing every morning. Over the years she completely wore out at least three Bibles. Several times, her children tried to replace old ragged Bibles with nice new ones, but she would cling to the familiar one, underlined and annotated, until it was just impossible to use any longer.
Some of Margaret’s favorite Bible verses were concerned with faith and trust. She especially liked Hebrews 10:35-39,the whole eleventh chapter of Hebrews, a great treatise on faith, and Hebrews 7:25-26. Some of her favorite verses on trust in God were in the Psalms: 71:1-3; 37:3-5; and Psalms 23 and 91 in their entirety. Three other favorite verses were: Philippians 4:6-7; Romans 8:28-39; and finally Revelations 22:18-19.
Margaret Stucke, wife, mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, left us on May 24, 1993. We loved her dearly.
In shady, green pastures, so rich and so sweet,
God leads His dear children along;
Where the water’s cool flow bathes the weary one’s feet,
God leads His dear children along.
Some through the waters, some through the flood,
Some through the fire, but all through the blood;
Some through great sorrow, but God gives a song,
In the night season and all the day long.
“God Leads Us Along,” by George A. Young, 1903.