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Margarete Secor died at West Valley Medical Center in the afternoon of Tuesday March 6, 2018, at the age of 80, of natural causes. A long-time resident of Caldwell, Idaho, she was known by many as a dedicated grandmother, mother, and artist. Early in adulthood, she worked as a stay-at-home mother, and later in secretarial and restaurant jobs, although much of her time in later decades was spend as bookkeeper for Secor Excavation, the business she successfully built with her husband Dick. Most important to her, she loved her time as devoted child carer for her four grandchildren, Alicia, Steven, Theo, and Zoë. If asked recently what her job in life had been, she would say “nanny,” and several other local children will also recall the joyful times they spent as youngsters with “Oma.” Born herself into an extremely difficult world, Margarete was determined that the children she knew would know joy and the opportunity to pursue their dreams and imaginations on their own individual terms.
She was born on May 26, 1937, as Margarete Jantz, the oldest daughter of Friedrich Jantz and the former Augusta Kuhn in Teosin, Poland. Ethnically German farmers, they were relocated with the Nazi invasion to Wartigau, north of Berlin, where they spent World War II. Fred was conscripted into the Wehrmacht to fight, ultimately on both the eastern and western fronts, making for a difficult wartime life for all. In the aftermath of the war, Margarete assisted in the family effort to flee into the western American zone, where they resided as refugees until sponsored by cousins as migrants to Idaho in 1951. Arriving in Idaho with her parents and siblings (older brother Bill, and younger siblings Martha, Erwin, and Edith), the family struggled to support themselves, with Margarete being adopted by an older cousin and her husband, Elsie and Jerry Mileger, whereupon she moved to Caldwell.
Margarete attended Caldwell High School, where she entered speaking no English; here, however, noted as a beauty, she excelled and graduated having made several life-long friends. In 1957 she married Spencer Dee Maughan, of Nampa, and subsequently her son Larry was born, followed in 1958 by Beckie, and in 1962 by Steve. In 1961 she became a naturalized citizen of the United States, and the sixties were spent, with Dee working as a long-haul truck driver, in raising her family. In 1974 she married Harvey Richard (Dick) Secor, with whom she remained for the rest of her life, and from whom she gained four step children: Harvey, Clara, Gene, and Ona. Both Ona and Gene also spent time in her home, Ona in particular becoming close. Dedicated to their children, Margarete and Dick were selfless in supporting relatives and the education of their extended family to the best that their limited means would allow.
She had an artistic temperament, and had dreamed of being a chef or an artist. Later in life, she pursued her art with commitment and enthusiasm, as a member of both the Caldwell and Nampa Art Guilds, where she produced oil and watercolor paintings, drawings, and mixed media works. She had strong opinions and voiced them freely, a product she said of the cruelties and oppressions she had witnessed in her life, too often committed in the name of nations and faiths, in which she had little confidence. Similarly, she encouraged her own children and grandchildren to a fearless pursuit of truths beyond conventional and “authoritative” opinions and in fidelity to their own true selves and talents. She was fiercely proud of her children and grandchildren and sought to inspire them through her own interests and the unconditional support of theirs. Margarete also loved music, particularly the humane musical poetry of artists such as Bob Dylan, Waylon Jennings, and Leonard Cohen, and spent her final years in the constant presence of their songs.
Margarete was predeceased by her husband Dick, and shortly after his death in 2016, she moved into an Autumn Wind assisted living apartment in Caldwell, where she joined some friends, and made many more. She will be much missed there for her lively presence, and was very happy in her final years, stating contentedly that she was enjoying the reward of finally being taken care of without the responsibility every day of taking care of everyone else. She was also predeceased by her parents; and her brother Wilhelm Jantz. She is survived by her sisters Martha Clinton and Edith Hawley, brother Erwin Jantz; sons Larry and Steve (Debi) Maughan, daughter Beckie (Dale) Eaton, step-children Harvey and Eugene Secor, Clara Kyle and Ona Hamilton (of Washington), and grandchildren (in Idaho) Alicia and Steven Dodson, Theodore and Zoë Maughan, and Andrea Rayborn.
Following Margarete’s wishes, there will be no funeral, but a celebration of life with family and friends will be held on April 7 from 2-5 p.m. at Orphan Annie’s restaurant in Caldwell (a second home and family to Dick and Margarete). Final arrangements have been provided by Flahiff Funeral Chapel. The family would like to give particular thanks to the staff at Autumn Wind Assisted Living, where Margarete spent her last years so happily, and West Valley Medical Center, where Margarete received expert, kind, and sensitive end-of-life care. In lieu of flowers, friends may make contributions to the Canyon Springs Alternative High School art program, in Caldwell, in her honor.
Condolences can be given at www.flahifffuneralchapel.com
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