A Life Remembered - Margaret Nixon

Margaret Nixon didn't let hard times growing up stop her

Margaret Nixon didn't let hard times growing up stop her

July 30, 2006|by MARLO BARNHART

Editor's note: Each Sunday, The Herald-Mail will run "A Life Remembered." This continuing series will take a look back - through the eyes of family, friends, co-workers and others - at a member of the community who died recently. Today's "A Life Remembered" is about Margaret Suzanne Troutman Nixon, who died July 19 at the age of 95. Her obituary appeared in the July 20 editions of The Morning Herald and The Daily Mail.

A child of the Depression, Margaret Troutman Nixon, her husband, George, and their only child, June, called one room of Margaret's father's house in Cumberland "home."

"We took that bedroom and made it into a living room," June Crippen said. "We lived there until I was 12."

Times were tough, June said. Her aunt and her five children also lived in that house.

"My parents told me they had wanted to have four children of their own, but I was their only child because of the Depression," she said.


June said her parents didn't dwell on what they didn't have, but rather reveled in what was theirs. She always knew she was loved - her mother went out of her way to see to that.

"Christmas was special - I remember getting a little stove or a Charlie McCarthy doll," she said.

Married at 19, Margaret and George lived apart for a while to save money ... again because of the Depression.

A reporter briefly at The Cumberland Times, Margaret later got a job at the Celanese plant in Cumberland - under her sister's name.

"They were desperate for money," June said. "Mom's sister was pregnant and couldn't work, so mom took her place."

Determined to better herself, Margaret entered Frostburg State Teachers College in her mid-40s. She earned both her undergraduate and master's degrees from Frostburg.

She then got a job teaching at North Potomac Middle School in Hagerstown, and remained there for 23 years, teaching mostly sixth grade.

"My grandmother would ride the bus from Cumberland to Hagerstown, arriving just in time for her Monday morning classes to begin," said Dawn Pinkham, one of Margaret's three granddaughters.

Then on Friday, she would ride the bus back to Cumberland, where she took care of her father and aunts, cooking and cleaning for them, Dawn said.

Margaret repeated that until she retired in the early 1980s - when she was 70 years old, June said. When her husband died three years later, Margaret relocated to Hagerstown and set about taking care of her growing crop of great-grandchildren who called her Maam or Mammy.

In addition to Dawn, Margaret's other granddaughters are Lynn Gresock and Sharon Lacy.

Always talented in music, a young Margaret studied for a while at the Peabody Institute of Music, gave piano lessons, once had her own band - Maggie's Melody Boys - and even wrote a march for Allegany High School that still is played today.

Margaret also played piano for the silent movies in Cumberland theaters.

"She lost that job when the talkies came in," June said. "But my dad saw her there and fell in love with her, courting her with chocolate-covered cherries."

At the funeral and viewing for Margaret, who died July 19 at the age of 95, many of her former students attended, and told June and her family of the impact Margaret had on their lives through her teaching.

"Everyone was special to mom," June said.

Dawn said she never knew her grandmother to ever raise her voice, yet her presence was commanding.

"Mom lit up a room," June said. "She never met a person she didn't like."

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