Margaret Lou Laughlin Guthrie

Guthrie—Margaret Lou Laughlin Guthrie, 90, on April 26, 2019, at home in Estes Park, Colo. Margaret was born on February 3, 1929, in Eldora, Iowa, to Edna Hunt and Melvin Laughlin. She and two brothers grew up on a 120-acre farm outside tiny New Providence, Iowa. Her mother had been a teacher, and her farmer father a college baseball player and carpenter. Margaret grew up in Honey Creek New Providence (Iowa) Friends Church, and although later embracing the Self-Realization Fellowship (SRF), she retained throughout her life Quaker values of peace and tolerance and attended Friends meetings when she could. After graduating from New Providence High School in 1946, she attended William Penn University (then William Penn College) and met George Guthrie. They married in 1948.

While George attended graduate school at the University of Chicago, she worked and bore two sons. In 1957 George joined the faculty at Pacific University, Forest Grove, Ore. She earned a bachelor’s in English in 1959 and became a children’s social worker for Oregon. In 1960, they moved back to Chicago’s South Side so George could work on his doctorate, and she worked for the Cook County Welfare Department. Another move in 1962 took them to Toledo, Ohio, for George to teach philosophy and religion at the University of Toledo (then Toledo University). She worked first licensing foster care homes and then as a social worker at Toledo State Hospital (later Toledo Mental Health Center). After attending night classes at the University of Michigan, in 1970 she received a master’s in social work and a state license from the Association of Certified Social Workers and worked as a counselor in the outpatient clinic and with Alzheimer’s and dementia patients.

Frustrated with work, she quit in 1973 and started writing. Her first novel (unpublished) was about the deinstitutionalization experience. Moving to a summer cabin in the Big Thompson area in 1975, she and George later retired to Estes Park. She developed her writing skills: attending workshops, writing classes, and a poetry class. Beginning in 2003 she published three novels and several books of poetry.

She took part in local groups discussing writing poetry, philosophy, religion, science, and SRF and volunteered with the National Park Service and the Estes Park library. A swimmer, tennis player, backpacker, hiker, and mountain climber, she along with George led trips for the local Colorado Mountain Club and did four-wheeling in their Isuzu Trooper, exploring roads that took them to places such as the Canyonlands. An avid environmentalist and humanitarian, she gave to Doctors Without Borders, Habitat for Humanity, the Environmental Defense Club, Rocky Mountain Conservancy, Amnesty International, PBS, women’s rights groups, the University of Toledo Philosophy Department, and William Penn University. The Sierra Club recently recognized her 55 years of membership. She was active in the Boulder Meditation Circle, driving every Sunday from Estes Park to Boulder, Colo., for over 35 years.

Approaching her life’s end, she shared her poems on aging and on dying with her Grief Group. After spending about three weeks in the hospital, she decided to stop receiving treatment and entered hospice at home.

Her husband, George Guthrie, and one brother, Don Laughlin, died before her. She is survived by two children, Steven Guthrie (Janice Pycha) and Mark Guthrie; a brother, Gerald Laughlin; a sister-in-law, Joanne Henderson; and nieces, nephews, and cousins.

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