Margaret Rice Owen, 90, of Salisbury was called to join her Heavenly Father and beloved daughter Janie Hurst, following a lengthy illness with dementia. She died at her home in Salisbury, on January 30, 2021.
Margaret was born June 17, 1930 in Rowan County, NC to Addie Lyerly and Ernest Elijah Rice, who precede her in death. Also preceding her in death are her brothers Bill Rice, John Rice, Russell Rice, Lonnie Rice and sisters Sally Torrence and Agnes Mesimer.
Margaret met the love of her life Thomas (Tommy) Owen when she was in 8th grade and he was in 9th grade. Tommy was smitten with her the moment he first noticed her beautiful green eyes and dark hair, saying she was a really good-looking girl. He would ride his bike 4 ½ miles from his house to her house just to spend a few minutes with her. Tommy and Margaret shared a love of basketball, playing many games together — most of which he won, despite her being a very good and sometimes rough player. Margaret graduated from Mt. Ulla High School in 1948, and she and Tommy married a year later, alhough Tommy never formally proposed to her because “it was just understood” that they would get married.
They married on Labor Day 1949 and moved to Cheyenne, Wy., where Tommy was stationed as an Airman in the U.S. Air Force. While living in Cheyenne, they had two children, Janie and Wilburn (Wib). After Wib’s birth, they moved back to the family “Rice” farm off Rice Farm Road where they made a wonderful life raising their two children in an atmosphere of love, fun and faith.
Margaret was well-known in the community for her hard work, “can-do” attitude and her leadership skills. Whether it was the PTA, Athletic Booster Club, Salem Youth Group, Church Women United, Aid Association for Lutherans or the Salisbury Women’s Club, she was not afraid to take the lead, serving as President in most of these organizations. To acknowledge her tremendous contributions, in 2013, the Women’s Club proclaimed Sept. 11 as Margaret Owen Day. She enjoyed taking the Salem Youth Group to the Lutheran Retreat Center at Kure Beach, but once there, she had a full-time job of keeping the boys and girls separated after hours. Despite trickery from the young people in her charge, she was always up to the task.
She was the secretary at Salem Lutheran Church for 25 years and she retired in 1992 but had no intention of slowing down. She and Tommy enjoyed square dancing for many years and were very active in the Cardinal Squares in Salisbury. They also enjoyed traveling with friends to Hawaii and Wyoming, and to the coast where she spent most of her time on the beach fishing. Avid baseball fans, she and Tommy also would travel to Florida for spring training. When not traveling, they would spend hours together watching her beloved Atlanta Braves play. Nothing made her any happier than seeing the Braves and attending Rowan American Legion baseball games.
A life-long member of Salem Lutheran Church, Margaret loved her Savior, the Lord Jesus, with all her heart, putting her faith first in all that she did. Her faith was an integral part of her life and she believed in service and in giving back.
In the face of a failing memory, she did not forget her family and her favorite songs “Jesus Loves Me” and “The Old Rugged Cross.” She was always happy and joyful. She was thankful for all who helped her and one night, while talking in her sleep in a strong clear voice, she proclaimed how thankful and proud she was of the family for taking care of her. Over the last few years, her favorite thing to say to her family was “I love you a bushel and a peck and a hug around your neck.”
Margaret is survived by her loving husband Tommy, of the home; her son, Wib (Jodie); son-in-law Hugh Hurst, her sisters-in-law, Naomi Rice, Margaret Rogers and Gilda Brown. In addition, “Maw-Maw” or “MeMe” is survived by five grandchildren whom she adored: Addie Steltzer (Kurt), Will Hurst (Emily), Curt, Candice Walsh (Sean), and Jack, as well as two great-grandchildren Emma Beth Walsh and Corbyn Walsh. Margaret is also survived by a host of loving relatives and friends.
The family will be forever grateful to her long-time caregiver, Jeannie Weant, who was a true friend, helping Margaret start her day just like she preferred — praising the Lord with worship and song. And to her additional caregivers who have nurtured, loved and cared for Margaret as if she were their own family — Sandy Leonard, Tisha Starbuck and Amy Leonard — we are beyond thankful for your commitment to Margaret. The family also wishes to extend gratitude to Novant Health Hospice for helping to make Margaret’s transition to Heaven comfortable and peaceful.
The family will have a private memorial graveside service at Salem Lutheran Church on Saturday Feb. 6 at 10:30 a.m. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to the Salem Youth Group.
Due to COVID-19 and for your health and the health of others, the family is requesting that everyone attending the funeral wears a mask
Lyerly Funeral Home is serving the Owen family. Online condolences may be made at www.lyerlyfuneralhome.com.
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