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With sincere compassion, we respectfully announce the transition of Mrs. Margaret E. Cawley. A resident, of Montgomery, AL; Mrs. Cawley transitioned Tuesday, October 24th, 2023. She was 93.
Margaret Elaine Cawley - September 25, 1930 – October 24, 2023
Our beloved sister, mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother Margaret Elaine Cawley, died peacefully at home in Montgomery, Alabama, on Tuesday, October 24, 2023, at the age of 93. She was a beautiful and lively soul who dedicated her life to helping others through the church and multiple outreach programs. Margaret, known later in life as “Peg”, didn’t just preach the Lord’s words, she practiced them. Whether it was donating her time to those in need, or opening her home to others, Margaret was happy to give service in any way she could.
Margaret was born on the family farm to Harold Rabe and Nellie (Strate) Rabe in Freeborn County, Minnesota, on September 25, 1930. She was the eldest of seven children (six girls and one boy) and was the first grandchild of George and Pearl Strate (mother’s side) and Henry and Florence Rabe (father’s side). Margaret attended country school through the eighth grade just two miles from the family farm, walking to and from school through wind or snow just like the stories you hear. In fact, Margaret’s sister Ruth remembers being pulled on a sled across the fields when it was cold and snowy. If you were lucky, dad or another farmer would take the kids to school on “really” cold days. Lunch was carried with you as there was no cafeteria in the little country schoolhouse. School did not come easily to Margaret and her mother Nellie helped her read her lessons. Margaret was well into her adult years before the term dyslexic made sense to her and she worked hard to overcome this challenge becoming an avid reader later in life. Next to the little country school was the Gordonsville Methodist Church Margaret’s family attended. In 1949, Margaret (known then as “Peg”) was one of a group of students who attended The Methodist Youth Rally in Waterloo, Iowa.
Life on a farm in the 1930’s and 1940’s meant lots of chores and hard work. There were animals to care for, gardens to be tended, kerosene lamps to be cleaned, and all girls learned to cook, bake and sew during that time. Margaret and her siblings remember the excitement of having electricity installed on the family farm--no more kerosene lamps to clean! The children were active in 4-H and took many projects to the Freeborn County Fair in Albert Lea, Minnesota. There are photos of Margaret at the county fair with her calves, produce from the garden, and sewing items that she displayed. In August of 1942, Margaret won an award for a prized calf when she was only 11 years old! The Ball Blue Book (a food canning and processing book) Margaret used is now in the kitchen of her sister Joan. Farm life could be fun, but also dangerous. Like the day Margaret’s brother Lyle was attacked by the bull in the pasture or the day Margaret was bucked off a calf and landed against the manger in the barn. Margaret loved all animals, especially horses, cats, and dogs. She rode horses often and well, especially on one of her favorite horses Billy. Growing up on the farm was always an adventure! One year, a horse even dropped dead when the kids were riding it. Thankfully, it wasn’t Margaret’s favorite
Margaret, now teenager known “Peg”, attended Northwood High School where the neighborhood farm kids were able to drive school while still living and working on the farm. Peg was a sophomore in high school when the family moved from the Minnesota farm across the state line to the small town of Northwood, Iowa. Peg’s family moved into town just days before her youngest sister Donna, the youngest of seven, was born. This was still a time when lunch hour meant walking home to eat for many students, and Peg and her sister Marie (the next oldest sibling) were able to help their mother with new baby sister Donna during their lunch hour (and it truly was an hour). Peg graduated from Northwood High School in May of 1948 at the age of seventeen.
After high school, Peg owned a small restaurant in Northwood, Iowa, that her Grandmother Pearl Strate helped her finance. Peg’s mother Nellie worked alongside her in the restaurant, and it was quite an accomplishment for such a young woman to be a business owner in this day and time. Peg had many food service jobs during her lifetime and always provided good old fashioned food with a smile and proper customer service. She excelled at working in restaurants, and later owned another family restaurant with her husband Frank near an airport when they lived in Maryland. Later in life, her granddaughters would comment that she could never sit down to eat an entire, uninterrupted meal because she was always busy “waiting” on the family table! Another talent Peg developed in her younger years was hand painting photographs in a time before colored film was routine. A family treasure of her efforts is a photo of the children sledding down a hill that she painted. Peg’s artistic abilities were inherited by her son Frankie, her granddaughter Amanda, and her great-granddaughter Ireland. In her twenties, Peg was married to Franklin Delano Roosevelt Cawley (Frank). Together they moved to Lanham, Maryland, where they raised five boys: Ronald (Ronnie), Kenneth (Kenny), Franklin II (Frankie), Michael (Mike), and Leonard (Lenny), as she called each of them by an endearing nick name. Peg’s sons meant the world to her! Though she loved being a mother, arguably her favorite role was that of “Grandma Peg” to 4 granddaughters, 6 great-grandsons, 2 great-granddaughters, and 2 more bonus great-grandchildren (that’s 14 grands and great- grands in all).
Peg treasured her time spent with children, never failing to bring a smile to little kids’ faces. Her granddaughters Allison and Amanda remember special camping trips with family cousins, grandma reading Bible stories before bed, working on crafts with grandma, and even watching the ponies swim across Chincoteague Island during summer visits to Grandma Peg’s house. Peg believed children are a gift from God and showed the Love of Jesus to all children she encountered! Peg Cawley was a member of Cornerstone Church in Bowie, Maryland, where she lovingly watched it grow and attended for many years until she was no longer able to drive independently during her golden years. After her husband Frank passed away, Peg’s family moved her from Lanham, Maryland, to Montgomery, Alabama. She made the move to the Deep South just before turning 90 years old and was able to celebrate a joint 90 th and 7 th birthday party with her great-grandaughter Ireland who shares Great-Grandma Peggy’s birthday. Peg lived her last three years just a few doors down from her oldest son Ron and less than two miles away from her oldest granddaughter Allison. Her son Ron was her primary caretaker and did an excellent job caring for and keeping Great-Grandma Peggy at home during her final years, despite progressing cognitive and physical declines in her health. While in Alabama, Peg enjoyed several visits from family and dear friends. She received a visit from her two sisters Ruth (from California) and Joan (from Iowa), several visits from her son Ken (also from California), a visit from family friend Richard (from Maryland) who was her son Mike’s lifelong best friend, and visits from other friends before she passed away. Peg will always be remembered for her warm heart and loving smile. She was the type of person who was always there for others. You could pick up the phone, day or night, and she would be there to listen to you, pray with you, cry with you, and make you feel loved. That is how her family will always remember her.
We couldn’t have asked for a better sister, mother, grandmother, or great-grandmother. Peg’s memory will live on in the hearts of each of us who knew and loved her until “the circle (will) be unbroken…in the sky Lord, in the sky.” Margaret “Peg” Cawley was preceded in death by her parents and grandparents, her brother Lyle Rabe, her sisters Marie Reese and Donna Jepson, and her husband Franklin “Frank” Cawley. Tragically, Peg was also preceded in death by her three youngest sons, Franklin Cawley II, Michael Cawley, and Leonard Cawley. She is survived by her sisters Ruth Otterbein, Dottie Silva, and Joan (John) Stumo as well as sister Donna Jepson’s husband Jerry Jepson (brother-in- law). Peg is also survived by her sons Ron Cawley and Ken Cawley; her granddaughters Allison (Michael) Hatchett, Amanda (Michael) Doyle, Meghan Cawley (Megyn), and Ashley (Patrick) Boyle; her great grandchildren Tristan Smith, Garrett Hatchett, Mariner Smith, Leland Boyle, Belle Hatchett, Logan Boyle, Liam Boyle, Ireland Boyer, Chase Doyle, and Emberly Hatchett; and many nieces, nephews, and other extended family. In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to Adult and Teen Challenge, a ministry that was near to Peg’s heart, at www.atcva.org.
Jackson Professional Funeral Services is grateful to Mrs. Cawley's family for entrusting the final care and arrangements of their loved one to our caring and dedicated professionals. We solicit your continued, sincere support, and prayers for her family as they navigate through this experience.
Adult and Teen Challenge