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Struble, Miss Margaret 1886-1972


Posted By: Viv Reeves (email)
Date: 8/3/2007 at 14:15:32

By Harvey N. Kluckhohn

Once again the LeMars community has said farewell to a respected teacher of the yesteryears. This last Friday forenoon my wife, Lucille, and I were among the small company of old friends who gathered around the family plot near the north edge of LeMars Memorial Cemetery for the simple graveside service in memory of Margaret Struble, a member of the public school faculty in the 1920’s and 1930’s.

As we stood there in the warm autumn sunshine, visiting quietly with the others who had come to pay their respects to the departed one and then listening to the scripture readings and the words spoken by the clergyman who conducted the service, I found my thoughts going back---as they had done when the word of her passing had first been received and as they would be doing in the hours following the service to the six years, 1928-1934, when I had the privilege of knowing her as a co-worker in the public school system.

I remembered especially the courtesy and kindness which she along with her contemporaries like Mary Waddick, Josephine Winslow, Bernice Laux, and Flora Gregg (later Mrs. Ralph Marcue) showed to me as a young schoolman when I began my work in the schools in September of 1928.

As a LeMars native and a veteran teacher and principal in the local school system, she possessed a thorough knowledge of the community and the schools, and I found her sharing of this knowledge with me exceedingly helpful in those early weeks in the new setting in which I found myself.

In my musings I recalled the qualities of Miss Struble’s character that especially impressed me in those years of our association; her dynamic, forceful personality and her keen mind; her complete dedication to her work; her loyalty to the school system, to the board of education; and to myself as superintendent; her high standard of scholastic excellence and her thoroughness and effectiveness as a classroom teacher; her fairness in her relations with pupils, parents, and fellow teachers.

A strong disciplinarian, she made her own classroom and the junior high school grades over which she presided models of orderliness and decorum. Yet, although firm and strict---and on occasion stern, though never harsh---she tempered these qualities with understanding and compassion.

But what I remembered most about her was the intense determination she had that no pupil of hers (she taught eighth and ninth grade history and civics) should fail in his work if she could possibly prevent it. She would not accept work that she felt did not measure up to the pupil’s potential capacity. Thus, through insistence on maximum effort on the pupil’s part, through appeals to his personal and family pride, and at times---when the other methods failed to bring the desired results---through an appeal to his sense of shame for having let himself and his teacher and his parents down, she succeeded in attaining a high level of achievement in her classes. “She was a tough teacher, but she made us learn” has been the grateful testimony of scores of her former pupils heard over the years.

As the years passed and accumulated to decades (she left LeMars in 1934 and made only brief visits, most of them in the earlier years, thereafter), Miss Struble did not forget her home town or her old friends and associates. My wife and I were among the fortunate ones who received letters or cards---and sometimes news clippings of packages of printed materials, usual from the New York Times and often carrying a written comment of her own, which she thought might be of interest to the recipients.

She continued to be mentally alert and interested in current national and world affairs throughout her active years and on up through her retirement and into advanced age as an octogenarian, and often she commented on these in her letters penned in the large, bold strokes of her distinctive handwriting.

We always heard from her at Christmas and New Years time, and in the most recent years once or twice during the course of the year. The envelopes, or rolls of printed matter, addressed in her easily recognized writing and bearing the New York City postmark and the Prince George Hotel return, were always welcomed and their contents appreciatively read. In the last three or four years we detected a hint of sadness as she commented on the passing of some of the old familiar landmarks of the home town---such as the old family home, removed to make way for the community’s industrial expansion, the old Union Hotel, which she had known in the gracious days of a bygone generation, dismantled and torn down; the church in which she had worshipped and had served as organist for some many years, scheduled for demolition and replacement by another structure on a new site.

But there was also a note of pride and of gratification in her writing, as she told of her receiving letters or personal visits from former students, now mature adults successful in their business or profession, acknowledging their indebtedness to her for her positive influence in their lives and expressing their appreciation for her concerned efforts in their behalf.

Our last communication from Margaret Struble was a brief message written on her personal monogram note paper, dated Dec. 19, 1971, and postmarked Peekskill, N. Y. It carried her holiday greetings and good wishes to us and brought the information that she had moved from the Prince George Hotel address that had been hers for so long to the new address (a nursing home, I presume) on Oct. 18. After the greeting came these words: “Gray skies and some large snowflakes on today’s program.”

While gray skies would no doubt be a part of her program as she neared the end of her long and busy and useful life, one hopes that there were times also when the bright sunlight shone through. One hopes, too, that her ability to enjoy beautiful things as symbolized by the large snowflakes floating softly down upon the peaceful Peekskill landscape, remained with her through those final weeks. And having seen evidences of her inner strength and indomitable spirit, one has the feeling that it did.

~Source: Biography printed in the LeMars newspaper sometime after her death on 29 Aug 1972.

LeMars Sentinel, Thursday, August 31, 1972, Page 5, Column 1:

Margaret Struble, 86, Onetime Junior High Principal, Is Dead

Margaret Struble, 86, longtime LeMars resident, died Tuesday (Aug. 29, 1972) at Peekskill Community hospital, Peekskill, N.Y.

The daughter of Elizabeth Koehler and James Struble, she was born in LeMars in June 1886 and had resided here until 1934.

In recent years she had been a guidance counselor for the New York State Employment Service and a resident of New York City.

She is survived by her brother-in-law David Stewart of Sioux City and her nephew Robert B. Stewart of Chappaqua, N.Y.

Miss Struble is still well known to residents of LeMars as principal of the junior high school from 1924-1934 under the superintendency of Harvey N. Kluckhohn.

She held a B. S. from the University of Iowa and a M. A. from Teachers college, Columbia University. She was a member Phi Beta Kappa, Phi Beta Phi, PEO, AAUW and other professional education associations.

Graveside services are set for 11:30 a.m. Friday, Sept. 15, at LeMars Memorial cemetery with Rev. Ralph Nelson of the Presbyterian United Church of Christ officiating. Mauer funeral home is in charge of arrangements.

The body is being cremated.

FAMILY NOTE: Her date of birth was 17 Jun 1886.


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