Margaret Mary Rathbun
Margaret Mary Rathbun

Margaret Mary Rathbun was born May 31st,1942 and the first born to Charles Howard Duffy and Mary Elizabeth Duffy.  In the years to follow, her family was blessed with a sister Nancy and a younger brother John. 

Margaret graduated San Gabriel Mission High School in 1960.  After high school, she worked her way through Pasadena City College and transferred to California Polytechnical College. 

At Cal Poly Pomona, in September 1964 she met and befriended my dad Bob in entomology class.  We are unclear as to her initial thoughts of him, but as she later told it “I chased Bob until he caught me.”  Margaret graduated from Cal Poly with my dad in 1967.  Dad proposed to mom on a property he still owns in Johnson Valley in March, 1969.

My parents married June 28th 1969 small ceremony surrounded by family and friends.  Mom recalled the start of her life together as “we were two young adults in love, had two new College degrees, two used cars and no-debt”.  My mom also characterized her relationship with my father as “An Enduring Friendship”.    They soon started a family, having two boys, myself and my brother Mike.

While dad worked, mom raised Mike and I and did all of the countless chores a mother does to raise her family.    Easter and Summer breaks where for vacations and mom DID vacations.  Summers were often spent with two week trips to the Eastern Sierra, teaching her boys to camp, hike and fish.

An adventurous woman, Margaret organized week long horse camping trips into the Bob Marshall Wilderness in Montana, two river rafting trips through the Grand Canyon, house boating on Lake Powell, Fall Deer Hunting Trips and a road trip to the Calgary Stampede in Canada and Glacier National Park.  The family’s summer vacations filled our memories and we camped, hiked, fished and drove all across California, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Montana, Wyoming and parts of Canada.

As Mike and I grew older, mom helped with our homework and supported in all of our extracurricular activities including track meets, Boy Scouts and Science Fair Projects.  Both Mike and I earned the rank of Eagle Scout, an achievement of which could not be reached without the support, advice and encouragement from our mom. 

Eventually, the adventures in the High Sierra became trips to the Wine Country, Catalina Island, San Clamente, Big Bear and to Aunt Nancy and George’s house on the Colorado River in Bullhead City.  An annual trip to the Sacramento Jazz Festival with Nancy and George became tradition where they stayed on the “River Queen”, a paddle wheel steamboat on the Sacramento River.

Although she took time off work early on to raise her young family, mom also worked full time for Los Angeles County as a Microbiologist.  She retired from Los Angeles County after 32 years of service and her last position was Supervising Public Health Microbiologist for the Department of Health Services.  

Margaret loved a good party and in 2006 Mike and I gave her two really good parties when I married Heather in May, and Mike follow in marriage to Kelly in October.  Heather and I soon had her first grandson Ryan.  Always the one upper, my brother and Kelly followed suit with twins, Gage and Natalie.

My mom had a gifted mind, a sense of humor, loved parties, adventure and was generous to friends and family alike.

Life is about creating memories.  There are two memories which I have that I wanted to share with you.  The first is that last words I heard my mother say to me are “I Love you”, which is a true gift.  The second is the memory of a hot desert evening with a cool breeze flowing of the surface of the Colorado River.   The river silently moving past, and my mom’s laughter echoing eternally off the walls of the Grand Canyon.  

Written by: James L Rathbun