Margaret Louise Beadle Steichen was born in Kingfisher County, Oklahoma, May 13, 1926. She was the fourth child of Louis and Katherine Goetzinger Beadle. In eighth grade, she was named the County Salutatorian for Noble County, Oklahoma, and remembered helping the teacher with the younger students at Highland School. She graduated as Valedictorian in 1944 from Sumner High School, where her nickname was “Beautiful,” and she played basketball. Margaret attended Central State College, Edmond, Oklahoma, (today’s University of Central Oklahoma), where she had indoor plumbing and electricity for the first time. She paid her own way through college working in the library for twenty-five cents an hour and sewing all her own clothes. She made the varsity basketball, volleyball and softball teams her freshman year. She was the president of Murdaugh Hall and of Criterion Club, and led her senior class into graduation exercises as the top academic student, earning her degree in English. She was the first member of her family to earn a college degree. While a student, Margaret worked for Monsignor Gavin Monaghan, who served as Superintendent of the Oklahoma Catholic School system.
Upon graduation, Margaret worked as the assistant to the office manager for the New York Equitable Life Assurance Company in Oklahoma City. She initially rejected the position, as the salary offered was too low for her living expenses. The office manager hired her immediately on the basis of her letter of refusal.
As a young career woman, she served as the first female president of the Coronado Club. This group of Oklahoma City young Catholic people planned the Annual Mardi Gras Ball, held atop the Civic Center Music Hall in the “Hall of Mirrors”. Margaret, in her position as president, engaged such artists as Tommy and Jimmy Dorsey to accompany this annual celebration.
Margaret met Robert Steichen at a 4-H party at Sunny Slope Farm, the Steichen home place north of Perry, Oklahoma. Bob’s sister, Mary Lou, played matchmaker and made certain Bob knew when Margaret was in town. They courted and were wed Aug. 2, 1952, at St. Joseph Cathedral in Oklahoma City. They lived in Minco, then Waynoka, and moved to Tonkawa in 1957 when Bob accepted a position at Tonkawa High School.
Margaret served as president of every organization in which she participated: Twentieth Century Homemakers, American Legion Auxiliary, St. Joseph Altar Society, Chapter S PEO and Delphi Study Club. To many, she was Tonkawa’s “fruit cake lady”, the annual fundraiser for the THS Band Parents, and even years after Bob left THS for a position at Northern Oklahoma College, she continued to receive calls and orders for fruitcake. She was a brilliant bridge player and a passionate cook.
Her lemon meringue and custard pies brought top dollar at local fundraisers, bake sales and the annual Lions Club chili supper.
Her community service included over thirty years as an election official for the Tonkawa precinct, working at the Tonkawa food bank, volunteering for the American Red Cross, and delivering Meals on Wheels. She and Bob were honored with the Tonkawa Chamber of Commerce “Tonkawa Pride Award” and led the Christmas parade as “Mr. and Mrs. Claus” and the Mardi Gras parade as Grand Marshals.
Margaret’s greatest accomplishment was her loving family. With them, she shared her pride, her fierce independence, her standards, her moral strength and all her love.
She is survived by her husband of 66 years, Robert; children Jeanne (Steve) Friesen, of Enid; Kevin (Erin) Steichen, of Tulsa; Suzanne (Matt) McQuade, of Yukon; Brenda (Don) Dobbs, of Tulsa; Jerry, of Tonkawa; Barry (Christine) Steichen, of Tulsa; 14 grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren. She will be missed more than any words can express.
A Rosary will be held Thursday, Nov. 1st, at 7:30 p.m. The Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated Friday, Nov. 2nd, at 10:30 a.m. Both services are scheduled to take place at St. Joseph Catholic Church, 320 West North Avenue, Tonkawa, Oklahoma. Arrangements are under the direction of Trout Funeral Home & Cremation Service of Tonkawa.
In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations be made to the Tonkawa St. Joseph Altar Society (St Joseph Catholic Church, P.O. Box 525, Tonkawa, OK 74653) or to the Northern Oklahoma College Foundation – Steichen Memorial Music Fund (1220 East Grand Ave, Tonkawa, OK 74653).