I am so sad to learn that Margaret King passed away a few days ago of cancer. As the first mother of In Step, Margaret King will always hold a very special place in my heart.
Margaret has been in my thoughts a lot lately with In Step marking its 20th year. I am absolutely incredulous that this much time has gone by. To think, when I first met Margaret almost 20 years ago, she was not that much older than I am right now.
Margaret joined In Step during our infancy and saw us through a tumultuous, sometimes tempestuous adolescence. In 1996, Margaret’s daughters, Stephanie and Ashley, were nearly grown, and Margaret was looking to begin a new chapter in her life. She sought to work in a nice little office, a place she could nurture and call home. I’d like to think Margaret found her home with In Step.
At that time, we were just a three room schoolhouse with a handful of therapists running a few groups. By the time Margaret left us in 2002, In Step had grown into a gangly teenager whose brain hadn’t quite caught up with its body. With three townhouses, 22 therapists, and 40 weekly therapy groups, the baby had morphed into a Baby Huey and Margaret was taking care of everything in the office with minimal support.
Margaret was In Step’s den mother; at times, she offered us moral support and nurturance, and at other times she set needed boundaries and limits. Margaret was passionate in her dedication to the Girl Scouts organization whose mission it is “to build girls of courage, confidence, and character who make the world a better place”. She put that same passion and dedication into her work with us. She believed in In Step, in our goal to help children and their families lead happier, more fulfilling lives. And Margaret was unconditionally supportive of me as a person, not just me as her boss. She viewed my frustrations, challenges, weaknesses, and mistakes like an unconditional mother might, with a combination of empathy and pragmatism.
Margaret moved out of the area soon after her husband Terry died. And, although we’ve kept in touch, I never did tell her what an important person she was in my life, and how much she helped me during those difficult years. I wish I made more of an effort to see her even after she moved, to hear how life was for her in Harrisonburg, and to share stories about our kids. I would have love telling her about In Step now. I think she would be very proud of how her “baby” had grown up and who we have become.