Margaret L. Repass Carspecken died Wednesday, July 31, 2019 in Wausau, Wisconsin, 8 months shy of her 100th birthday. She was born March 18, 1920 in Atlantic, Iowa, the daughter of the late Fred and Mae (Jennings) Repass.
Margaret Repass attended Cornell College, Mt. Vernon, IA, where she met Phil Carspecken. After their first date she announced to her sister Dorothy that if Phil had asked her that night she would have said “yes” to marrying him. They did marry, on September 13, 1941, in Waterloo, IA, and moved to Chicago, IL, where Phil was stationed at the Great Lakes Naval Training Station in Waukegan. Margaret worked for Standard Oil in Chicago and delighted in the big city life, taking the El to work, meeting Phil to attend concerts and movies.
Margaret and Phil moved to Wausau, WI in 1946 with their daughter Kathleen. Phil chose Wausau where he’d been captivated by a sunrise view of Rib Mountain (now Granite Peak) from Hammond Park as he and his father were traveling to Canada on a fishing trip. He was hired by Wausau Insurance (then Employers Mutuals of Wausau), where Phil had a successful and creative career as a writer-editor of accident prevention media for the company. They became active in the Newcomers’ Club and also joined the First Universalist Church, Wausau where over the years Margaret was a member of its board of trustees, Forum discussion group, Evening Circle, UU Women’s Association, “Pack” Book Club and its Caring Committee. Three other children were born in Wausau, and all four survive Margaret and Phil: Kathleen (Pam) Carspecken, Hyde Park, MA; Christine (Bruce) LePage, Grantsburg, WI; Phil (Lucinda) Carspecken III, Bloomington, IN, and Randy (Dawn) Carspecken, Whitefish, MT. Also surviving Margaret and Phil are five grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. Margaret was preceded in death by Phil (2010) and her beloved siblings Dorothy Nordman and Don Repass.
Margaret and Phil’s uncountable gifts to their children included much-anticipated holiday traditions, tennis breakfasts, weekend hikes with their also-loved dogs, regular Wisconsin north woods and several Rocky Mountain camping trips, and wonderful creative meals Margaret crafted for her family expanding her recipes to accommodate changing diets. Her delicious desert bars were legendary. Into each of their warm homes Margaret and Phil welcomed back their deeply loved children each summer and Christmas, topping their generous hosting of family reunions with 7 years at the YMCA of the Rockies in Estes Park Colorado and 4 years at Lost Land Lake Lodge in Hayward, WI. Family reunions were always rich with celebration, good conversation and strong coffee.
Margaret’s professional post child-rearing career began as a reporter for the Wausau Daily Record Herald, first writing the obituary pages (may we embody her lively spirit in this obituary!) then becoming a reporter with her own weekly gig, the Teen Page, guiding high school students as junior reporters. After five newspaper years her next eleven were as a Teachers’ Aide in Wausau’s Hearing-Impaired Department at Grant School where she learned to sign and help deaf students. She formed life-long friendships with many Grant colleagues.
Her volunteer work included the Community Recycling Center and Meals on Wheels and her caring touch extended to Wausau shut-ins with Margaret’s children often accompanying her in visits to isolated community members. She participated in a lively book group well into her 90s. Among her main enthusiasms were biking, especially with the Biking Vikings, she and Phil among the original founders. UU couples and others planned trips first training in Wisconsin then launching to distant points including the San Juan Islands, Nova Scotia, the hills of Vermont, Martha’s Vineyard off Cape Cod, Massachusetts, Germany, France and a barge trip down the Rhine. They were avid water exercisers dubbing their crowd the Waterbugs, enjoying their workouts and the socializing at the coffee shop on 3rd Street. They attended many Elderhostels (a favorite in Lake Geneva, WI), often combining with visits to their children in Massachusetts, Texas, Indiana and Montana.
Perhaps among Margaret’s most notable qualities was her steadfast communication with family, relatives and friends and even volunteering to write notes to overseas military personnel. She dubbed herself “Margaret Card-Specken” and was our main reference for important dates, especially birthdays and anniversaries. Her welcome emails to her “Fabulous Four” children came nearly weekly until her very last days. She always worked at being cheerful and uncomplaining despite becoming more and more uncomfortable with a body that was “old, old, old...” She “peacefully died, just slowly stopped breathing with a beautiful calm expression on her face, in a place her family surrounded with love” wrote Christine who, with her husband Bruce were with her at that moment.
We are happy for Mom. She enjoyed a rich, full life that had some difficult and many joyful moments, growing along with her family in wisdom and thoughtfulness. We love you forever dear Mom!
A Memorial Service will be held at 11:00 a.m. on August 24th, 2019 at First Universalist Unitarian Church of Wausau, 504 Grant St., Wausau. The Rev. Brian Mason will officiate. Visitation, also at the church, will be held 10:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. Assisting the family with arrangements is Brainard Funeral Home, Wausau.
In lieu of flowers, Memorials in Margaret’s name may be directed to:
First Universalist Unitarian Church of Wausau, 504 Grant St, Wausau, WI 54403
The Neighbors’ Place
745 Scott St.
Wausau, WI 54403
Online condolences may be sent to www.brainardfuneral.com