Margaret Jensen

Honored by:The McGlade Children
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On September 3, 1906, a laughing, spirited Irish lass by the name of Margaret was born to Patrick and Elizabeth Gilligan in the small farming community of Alma, Iowa. Margaret, or "Peggy" as her father called her, worked daily on her family's farm with her five brothers and sisters.

Over the years, Peg has delighted her grandchildren with happy tales of the Gilligan "clan" of Alma - nightly singing led by the sweet tenor voice of her father, the kind hardworking ways of her mother, and the harmless pranks pulled by her brothers and sisters. Despite her love for her life on the Gilligan farm, the pull of youthful adventure proved strong in Peg. Like so many young girls in the 1920's, she decided to venture into "the big city" - Waterloo, Iowa - to make an independent living for herself after graduation from high school.

While staying with her married sister Lizzie, Peg met another young woman Lou who was also determined to "make it on her own." Together they got jobs as telephone operators for the Waterloo phone company and spent their days and nights in a whirlwind of activity. With laughter in her voice and eyes, Peg has told stories of how she and Lou would "pull a double shift" and then go dancing into the wee hours at Waterloo's hot swinging night spot the Electric Park. One evening however Peg's "flapper ways" came to a screeching halt as she met on a "blind date" the man who would change her life forever, August Jensen.

After a short courtship, Peg married her "Augie" on November 8, 1930, in a brown velvet dress that she would later turn into a party dress for her beloved daughter Jane. As all young couples in the 1930's, Peg and Augie struggled with the hard times and heartbreaks posed by the Great Depression.

While he dreamed of being a pharmacist, Augie felt fortunate to land a supervisor's job at John Deere Motor Works where he would remain as a dedicated employee until his retirement in the 1970's. After the birth of their two children, Jerry and Jane, Peg insisted that she help earn money for her family and managed the snack counter at a Waterloo bowling alley for several years. Her customers often noticed a quiet but strong-looking young man who sat in a booth studying engineering and management text books and occasionally glanced at Peg as she worked. When asked by her customers who the man who always read silently and never bowled, Peg would reply, "Why that's my husband - he is watching out for me!" For over fifty years Peg and Augie "watched out" for one another as only two "soulmates" can.

They built a life of unconditional love for each other and a special haven for their children and their nine grandchildren in their home on Hickory Street. Over the years, Peg and Augie also instilled in their children and their grandchildren the importance of giving to others as a means of bettering one's self and community. In the 1940's they helped found Blessed Sacrament parish in Waterloo, where Peg spent many hours cooking church suppers and doing laundry while Augie crafted many of the wooden interiors of the church.

Peg also served as a long-time hospital volunteer and worked with underprivileged children in the Head Start program in the 1960's and 1970's. Their son Jerry followed their social example by becoming a long-time member of the Waterloo police force as an officer and an instructor. Their daughter Jane also chose a humanitarian career as a dedicated nurse and health care administrator.

Today, Peg and Augie's grandchildren are also making significant contributions to their own communities by working in such "helping" professions as teaching, law enforcement and health care and acting as social volunteers. A true Daughter of Iowa, Peg loves the home she made with her beloved partner Augie for so many years and cannot be tempted to move elsewhere. She is extremely proud of the long roots of service and community that her family established in Waterloo. Through the longevity of her life, love, lore and laughter, Margaret Jensen has given to her caring yet scattered family the precious irreplaceable gift of an enduring sense of "home" and tradition in Waterloo that can never be displaced by distance or time.