I fell in love with her forever the first time I saw her. She was dancing with my fraternity brother at the chapter's big fall dance at Indiana University. Afterward, I asked him for her name and if he was interested in dating her. He was not, for kissing her good night, he said, was like kissing his sister; she obviously was not interested in him. (With me, her kissing was absolutely phenomenal.)
I could not forget her and sometime later I called her to ask for a date at a New Year's Day dance. She accepted and later told me that she immediately recognized my voice on the telephone even though the only time we had seen each other was on a double date eight months before. Our destinies were joining, it seems.
That dance was 65 years ago and it was the end of my dating. We married two years later and for 63 years she gave me a marvelous wife and life.
And at her death on Wednesday, I kept the promise I repeatedly had made to her: that I would not leave her alone by dying first. I know she is thanking me for that.
When we moved to Rochester from Indianapolis with the first two of our four children, I feared she might not be happy in a small city after growing up in South Bend. The fear was groundless. She was anticipating life here, she told me. As we made friends, Marge's beauty, her pleasing presence and personality, her honesty and tolerance, her intelligence and lack of pretense endeared her to those who met her. As, indeed, those qualities had encaptured me.
As soon as our four daughters were old enough to be entrusted now and then to my care, she went forth to hone her skillful leadership traits. First came involvement in local, district and state Tri Kappa sorority activity. Then she began what became the driving passion of her civic life: the public library. First a trustee, she became librarian after a sudden vacancy in the position, but left it when the necessity to fire a staff member so unnerved her gentle spirit.
She then founded and was first president of the Friends of the Library organization that still is vibrant. Then came the achievement from which she took the greatest satisfaction: securing the library's present residential site. Plans for a new library along the busy freeway of East Ninth Street near the Indiana 25 crossing were proceeding rather secretively until its architect, who was our longtime friend, showed up at our house with his model for the building. Marge admired it but told him, "It never will be built there."
Within a few days she had arranged a meeting of county and city officials with the library board. There it was agreed that the site of the county's vacant hospital at Pontiac and Seventh streets would be given to and accepted by the library if funds to tear down the building could be found. Find them she did, in two weeks, with the help of Dick Belcher, Bob Gottschalk and her husband.
She told me: If I never do anything else, I have done that, and it is enough. She had immense satisfaction last year when some of this story was told at the dedication of the library's addition.
If my pride in her is showing through about now, I make no apologies for it.
For awhile, we were able to escape these winters for Florida and then Arizona, also examining parts of this great land in all 50 states. Her highlight of those travels, she often said, was having fresh salmon for dinner six straight nights while traveling from Oregon to Washington, being the fine cook and gourmand she was. For our 50th wedding anniversary, I arranged an Atlantic crossing to Britain aboard the QE2, lunch in Paris by way of the Chunnel under the English Channel and return on the supersonic Concorde airliner. Her thrills in it all thrilled me.
The 21st century was not good to her. First the Parkinson's disease appeared, then a series of hospitalizations, one of which almost killed her. Through all the other pain, the Parkinson's remained a daily presence. She hardly ever complained about any of this, for complaining was not in her nature. Only during the past week or so did she voice sorrow that she couldn't be near the birth of her first great-grandchild. Drake Browning Wilson was born two days after her death.
She was my Marge, but I long had called her Poo and I have loved her deeply all of those 65 years. Now she's gone and I'm not exactly sure what I will do without her. Except to lament her going and revel in the complete love that she gave to me.
Good night, Poo.
To read the full obituary for Margery H. Overmyer click here.