Margaret Fitch was born Dec. 16, 1919 in Seiling, Okla., and passed away Friday Feb. 15, 2013 at Town Village Retirement Community in Oklahoma City. Margaret was preceded in death by her husband, Eugene E. Fitch, on Jan. 23, 1966, and also by her parents Dora and Alphe Edsel, and brothers Houston, Sherwood, Ray and Lee and sisters Clara Harrison, Dorah Jackson and Maybell McGee. Margaret is survived by her sister, Jean Henderson of Half Moon Bay, Calif., her sister-in-law, Norma Edsel of Dallas, Texas and numerous loving nieces and nephews.
Margaret was a long-time resident of El Reno Okla., and a longstanding member of Wesley United Methodist Church. Margaret was a 1942 graduate of Oklahoma A&M College and a 1960 Oklahoma State University Masters graduate. She was active in 4-H activities in high school and that carried over into college where she majored in Home Economics with the goal of having a career in Cooperative Extension. After graduation in 1942, she took a vocational home economics teaching position for one year and then became a home demonstration agent in Boise City, Okla. In 1945, Margaret transferred to Canadian County where she would remain until 1970. During those 25 years of service to Canadian County she worked with both the adult and youth programs. Margaret married Eugene E. Fitch in 1952 and they shared thirteen years of life together until Gene’s early death in 1966. Margaret continued her commitment to others and in 1970 she accepted a position at the University of Arizona as the Extension Home Economics Program Leader, a position she held for five years. In 1975, she became the Assistant Director for Home Economics, 4-H, and Community Resource Development in Hawaii and a year later she became the acting Associate Director for Hawaii Cooperative Extension. She retired from that position in Jan. 1981 and soon moved on to a new adventure. Margaret went on to serve as a consultant for the University of Qatar under UNESCO and the University of Hawaii and as a consultant in Extension Home Economics programs for the island of Tonga in the Southwest Pacific. From 1982 to 1985, Margaret was also an adjunct professor at OSU and in that role she conducted professional visits and seminars in many foreign countries such as Japan, Korea, Thailand, Hong Kong, West Africa, Nigeria, Norway and France. In 1974 she became the president of the American Home Economics Association, a 55,000-member organization. In 1976, Margaret was elected president of the Oklahoma Home Economics Association. In 1979, Margaret was nominated and elected president-elect of the International Federation of Home Economics, a worldwide organization with members in 90 countries, and she served as president from 1980 until 1984. Margaret was the first United States citizen to hold this position. In 1984, Margaret was one of 75 people recognized by the American Association of Home Economics as leaders who had made significant contributions to the Association and to the profession.
In 1985, Margaret received the National Distinguished Service Award from the National Home Demonstration Agents Association. In 1986, Margaret received the Henry G. Bennett Distinguished Service Award from her beloved Alma Mater, OSU, and in 1990, she received the Women’s Council Outstanding Alumna Award from OSU. In 1991, Margaret was initiated into the Oklahoma State University Alumni Hall of Fame.
It is impossible to count the number of lives Margaret touched in her 93 years. What is known is that everyone Margaret encountered is richer for having known her. Unselfish, caring, and always devoted to making life better for others, Margaret will be remembered for what she did and who she was. Perhaps what everyone will most remember about Margaret was her beautiful smile, which she always wore. Her smile was simply an insight into her eternal beauty. Margaret will be dearly missed by everyone she touched all of whom derive comfort in knowing she is reunited with those she loved most.
The family would like to especially thank those who cared for Margaret. For many years while Margaret resided at St. Katherine’s in El Reno, the caring people at St. Katherine’s were kind and generous to Margaret, a founding member of that facility. Moreover, Margaret was cared for by Visiting Angels and her long-time caregiver, Anita Lance. The family is thankful and indebted to Visiting Angels and especially Anita for their love of, care for and dedication to Margaret. The family is also deeply grateful to our caregiver angel, Paula Avery. When we were investigating the appropriate facility for Margaret after her hospital stay from a broken hip, we were connected with Paula who runs Caregiver Connection in Oklahoma City. Throughout Margaret’s last two months, Paula was a godsend for Margaret. She directed Margaret’s care and, in addition to the dedicated caregivers from Faith Hospice, Paula was at Margaret’s side often and in constant communication with Margaret’s family. Paula and the Faith Hospice caregivers, along with two Faith Hospice Chaplains, were present with Margaret when she passed and each spoke of Margaret’s signature smile and her loving, generous and Christian spirit. Even in Margaret’s death, she was teaching those around her about unselfishness and dignity. We want to thank Paula and Faith Hospice for their loving care of Margaret. Interment will take place at Arlington National Cemetery alongside her beloved husband after a Celebration of Margaret’s life, which will be held Thursday Feb. 21 at 10 a.m. at Wesley United Methodist Church in El Reno, Okla., followed by a reception at the Church. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made in honor of Margaret to the “Margaret Edsel Fitch Fellowship program fund at Oklahoma State University”. Donations should be made payable to Oklahoma State University Foundation, P.O. Box 1749 Stillwater, Okla. 74076-1749. Please note the fund name in the memo field.