May 17, 2012

Grandma Maggie Leaves Us

My Paternal Grandmother, Maggie, passed away this week. My parents wrote a great obituary to remember her.  She will be missed.  

Obituary for Margaret M. Quirk

Margaret Mary McAllister Quirk, a life-long resident of Walla Walla, died in the presence of her two sons, on Mother’s Day, May 13, 2012, following a short illness.

Born October 27, 1912, the daughter of Joseph L. McAllister and Honora Burke McAllister, an Irish immigrant who died soon after giving birth, Margaret was raised by her father and loving mother, Lyette Perier McAllister. Joe was the manager of Zellerbach Paper Company in Walla Walla, and Lyette was a registered nurse on the staff of St. Mary’s Hospital, having graduated in the first nursing class from St. Vincent’s Academy.

Margaret’s siblings, Bob, Rose Marie (Klundt), Jerry, Don and Joe joined her in a memorable childhood spent on North 6th Avenue, an ethnic melting pot, which included the neighboring Morel, Magallon, Aubert, Roach, Davis, Guthridge, Perry, Rondema and Donovan families.

Margaret graduated from St. Patrick’s High School in 1930, and thereafter was employed as a bookkeeper in the office of Dr. Nathaniel Beaver, who later was a founding member of the Walla Walla Clinic. Margaret retired as head of the clinic’s patient-accounts department in 1971, having been on the staff since its founding.

Margaret met a handsome East Coast airman, who soared several inches over her nearly five-foot frame, while attending USO dances for servicemen stationed at Walla Walla Air Base. Too soon Bill departed as a crewmember of a bomber fleet, flying missions over the South Pacific and the Asian continent. But Margaret and Bill’s wartime letters resulted in a wedding date set soon after the war’s end and Bill’s return from the Pacific. On November 12, 1945, Margaret became Mrs. William A. Quirk. Bill joined a local insurance business, and eventually became a 25-year partner with Ken Wasser, at Wasser-Quirk Real Estate and Insurance Company, located on College Avenue in College Place.

Within a few years, sons Michael Patrick and Timothy William were born. They were raised feeling well loved and protected by a mother whose fierce pride, strong loyalty and love of all things Irish permeated their childhood.

Margaret was a lover of people, especially Walla Walla people. Even when Bill and Margaret took their yearly leave to visit the Oregon coast, Margaret’s great joy was running into other beach visitors from Walla Walla, or those who once had family there.

After Bill died in 2001, her sons encouraged Margaret, then 88, to consider living someplace with more company, possibly closer to either of them. In 2003 Margaret decided on Eagle Meadows, in College Place. Though some may possibly view College Place as a near-by town, in Margaret’s world, it is just an extended Walla Walla neighborhood, thus preserving her proud hometown residency for a full century.

Margaret thrived at Eagle Meadows, where she proudly became both the longest-residing resident, and the oldest-licensed driver. Margaret’s persistent questions allowed her to vicariously share in the joys of several staff members’ families. More than once, while in the midst of a daily phone conversation with Mike or Tim, she’d instruct her son to “Here, talk to Michelle; she has a son the same age as my great grandson,” or “Now talk to Leticia; her son just got into med school.”

Margaret is survived by just one member of her generation, June McAllister, her sister-in-law, of Lake Oswego, OR. Also by sons Mike Quirk, a Seattle psychologist, and Tim Quirk, a Spokane attorney. Other family includes Margaret Nibler Quirk, Dan and John Quirk, all of Seattle; Sally Bulger Quirk and Brian Quirk, both of Spokane, and Katie Quirk, of Orono, Maine. Margaret was also a proud great-grandmother of three “Irish” wee ones: Liam, Reid and Katie.

A memorial mass will be celebrated in Margaret’s honor at Assumption Catholic Church, in Walla Walla, in mid-June. Please look for the specific date and time, which will be published for several days beforehand. The whole day shall be a wearin’ o’ the green for the indomitable Maggie
McAllister Quirk.

Remembrances honoring Margaret are welcome, kindly directed to Gonzaga Scholars Program (502 E Boone, Spokane, WA 99258) or to Walla Walla Community Hospice (1067 E Isaacs, WW, WA 99362).