Margaret (Haugh) Wombacher
Margaret Wombacher loved to travel, and she always did it her way. Her final journey was no different: she went out of this world and into the next one on her own terms, surrounded by her family and at the home of her daughter Julie in Fort Collins, Colorado. She brought her family together to care for her in her final days. At 2:40 a.m. on October 4, 2017, Margaret took her last breath.
Margaret Ann Haugh was born in Mankato, Minnesota on July 27, 1936. She was the eighth of thirteen children born to William and Eldora Haugh of Easton, Minnesota. From birth, Margaret found many ways to distinguish herself; she was the first in her family to be born in a hospital. She was proud of her large family and often repeated her mother's mantra that no matter how many mouths she had to feed, there was always "room for one more at the table."
She paid her tuition at Mankato State University (class of 1958) by working a summer job at the Green Giant factory; after college she moved to Colorado to teach high school in Grand Junction. Inspired by her hero JFK, Margaret applied to the Peace Corps. When she learned she would be serving in Cameroon, it did not matter that she was unsure where it was; her adventurous spirit far outweighed her need for convenience and familiarity. Margaret's international teaching career had begun.
In 1963, she met the love of her life, Karl Wombacher, also a Peace Corps volunteer. They married in Cameroon, West Africa, in September 1964, and returned to the United States in 1965. Margaret has remarked that the only way for Karl to recoup the money she had won from him during their weekend poker games was to marry her. When their Peace Corps service was complete, they moved back to Minnesota and welcomed 2 daughters: Julie Marie and Teresa Clare. Karl and Margaret shared their love for music, literature, good food, and international travel for 21 happy years.
In 1967 the couple moved to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia with their two young daughters. There, they welcomed a third daughter, Leila Christine. Margaret taught at an international school in Jeddah from 1968 until 1978, when she and Karl chose Fort Collins as their new hometown. Two years later they returned to Jeddah. Following Karl's death in 1985, Margaret continued to live and teach overseas, working first in Korea, then Kuwait and Thailand, before "retiring" in 1997. After permanently resettling in Fort Collins, Margaret worked as a long-term substitute teacher in the Poudre School District, where she continued to touch the lives of many students, teachers, neighbors, family, and friends.
Margaret is preceded in death by her parents, her husband of 21 years, Karl Frederick Wombacher of Proctor, Minnesota, and her siblings Raymond Haugh, William Haugh, Harold Haugh, Maryce Murry, and Sr. Eileen Haugh. She is survived by her daughters Julie Quihuiz (Jan Krucky) of Fort Collins; Terry Thomas (Wendell) of Salt Lake City, Utah; and Leila Knox (Charlie) of Albany, California. Margaret also leaves behind eight grandchildren: Erica Quihuiz; Samuel, Seth, Jonah, and Jaycey Thomas; and Hazel, Karl, and Naomi Knox. She is also survived by brothers LeRoy (Marilyn) of Arlington VA, Charles (Eileen) of Rochester, Howard (Nicole) of Mankato, sisters Evelyn Wallace (Neal) of Vernon Center, Rita Haugh of Winona, Ann Rath (Allan) of Mankato, and Catherine Eiselt (James) of Madelia, and sisters in law Pat Haugh of Albert Lea, Janet Haugh of St Paul, and Irma Haugh of Easton
Margaret will be remembered for her feisty personality and lively social gatherings as well as her love of travel, reading, music, Harley-Davidson motorcycles, crossword puzzles, and Garrison Keillor's Prairie Home Companion. Equally important to her were her Catholic faith, her lifelong commitment to the Democratic party, and the Colorado Rockies. Her love of baseball was instilled by her father when she was a young girl. When she was not riding the Trans-Siberian Railway or flying over Venezuela's Angel Falls, she was running 5K races in Fort Collins or hosting large gatherings in her backyard. As a middle school English teacher, she was small in stature but a big influence in hundreds of students' lives. Her co-workers still talk about her famous "I Survived September" parties, her volunteerism, and the high expectations, no-excuses attitude she had for her students, her family, and most of all herself. Margaret taught us how to live well and do scary things, despite uncertainty and fear. If this testimony lives up to her high expectations (no grammar, spelling, or punctuation errors), we think she would be proud.
Margaret's travels took her around the world, and she collected friends in every country. She actively maintained those friendships when she retired, hosting visitors and family year round while finding time to work, volunteer, travel, and keep up with Jeopardy and politics. We thank all the friends who remained loyal to Margaret through their visits, calls, emails, prayers, cards and letters. A teacher to the end, Margaret chose to donate her body to medical research. There will be a memorial mass for her at St. Joseph's Catholic Church, Fort Collins, on Oct. 20 at 2:00 p.m. followed by a celebration of her life (location TBA). In lieu of flowers, please donate in her name to the Alzheimer's Association or the Rescue Mission of Fort Collins.
Published on October 9, 2017