Margaret Mary Coonrod
Margaret Mary Coonrod

January 27, 1926 - January 21, 2018
Born in Nebraska City, Nebraska
Resided in Parker, Colorado
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Margaret Gude Coonrod (1926-2018)

When the end finally came she left this world in the same way she had lived her life. To the end she was true to herself, true to her God and true to those she loved.

Margaret Coonrod was a lot of things in a small package. A dynamo of energy she crafted a life that included a rock solid family, a successful career and a foundation of faith that stood the test of time.

She was born Margaret Mary Gude on January 27, 1926 in Nebraska City, Nebraska. Margaret and her identical twin, Marjorie Therese, were born to Charles and Helen Gude. Her father was a decorated veteran who served in World War I and a successful local business man. Her mother stayed at home to raise the children and to teach the lessons that would serve them so well in life. She had an older brother, Charles, and a big sister, Rita.

As often happens with twins, the lives of Margaret and Marjorie were intertwined. Whether it was attending St. Mary’s school, marching in the high school band, working together at the dime store, dropping off a bag of groceries to a less fortunate neighbor at their mother’s direction or making a timely appearance to sing in the church choir, the girls were two peas in a pod.

Margaret loved to tell stories of her school days. Her two favorites, told frequently and with the same storyline revolved around the young priest who would play ball in the street with the students at lunch hour. He always made sure to watch for traffic and call out any warnings of danger. Story number 2 revolved around the time Margaret and her sister were called from class to the church to serve as sponsors for a set of twins who had arrived at St. Mary’s in search of the sacrament of Baptism. The parish priest had thought twins standing for twins would be a nice touch.

At one juncture in her life Margaret had expressed an interest in becoming a teacher. Twin sister Marjorie thought becoming a nurse made more sense, so during WWII the girls entered the Army Nursing Corps program in Lincoln, Nebraska. Training was conducted at St Elizabeth’s hospital. The war ended before graduation but the girls completed their training and became Registered Nurses.

On September 3, 1949 in a double wedding at St. Mary’s in Nebraska City the twins shared in another of life’s milestones. Margaret married Emory Coonrod and Marjorie married Jerry Brim. Margaret had two requirements for her new husband. Be a Catholic and learn how to dance. The conversion happened before the wedding but the dance lessons took a few years to accomplish. From that day the girl’s lives would be separate entities forever bound by blood and love. Marjorie died 3 years ago on Thanksgiving Day. Margaret’s grandson, Charlie, while cleaning his Grandma’s apartment one last time, thought to bring Marjorie’s picture so they could be together on earth one last time before joining each other in heaven.

Margaret or Marg as she was know to friends pursued her life with balance, tenacity and an unshakable faith in her God.

She started her professional life in Lincoln, Nebraska. Her husband Coonie worked for the Burlington RR and she was the charge nurse on the labor and delivery deck. She was instrumental in the era of the baby boomers, delivering babies by the dozens and contributing 3 of her own. Kathy the oldest daughter was born in 1951, Kim, the son, was born in 1952 and lastly the baby of the family, Jamee, born in 1955.

True to her nature and character Marg couldn’t delegate the responsibility of raising her children or providing for her family to others. The result was years of working the graveyard shift so she could be home during the daytime to provide care and support for her family. Sleep was a rare commodity and was even harder to come by when she would be volunteered by her proud children to provide nursing skills at a school function. She never said no to those requests. When terminal breast cancer struck her mother she opened her home and her heart to provide that care as well.

Marg pursued numerous options within her career. Labor and delivery, opthamolgy, allergy treatment, and skilled nursing and elder care were all fields in which she practiced. She loved providing care for others and always held physicians in the highest esteem. Whether it was experience or training she always addressed them as “Doctor” and what “Doctor said” was law. Except for her last visit to the ER when the examining physician asked “ I understand you fell while cleaning a toilet.” Her response was “No, Kid, I fell while cleaning the stool”

In the mid 70’s Marg and Coonie transferred to Colorado. Their daughters followed them in the move soon after. Marg and Coonie immersed themselves in their jobs and church. Though Coonie suffered significant health issues, Marg nursed him through it and they were blessed with years of travel, family and friends. The brood grew to include grandchildren and great grandchildren. Holidays were always a special time but grew harder as one by one parents, siblings and spouses went to their heavenly reward. Just shy of her 92nd birthday she was the last of the group.

A little over a year ago we received a phone call from Marg. She said she had slid to the floor and couldn’t get up. When our schedule allowed could we come by and give her a hand? This chain of events started the last transition of Marg’s life. She became a resident at Parker Senior Living. It took a bit of adjustment, but soon she blossomed into the old Marg. She loved her apartment and was particularly proud of the fact that her grandson Charlie worked there and “her boy” stopped by to see her every day. With her critical nursing eye she would do her best to identify those in need. Her mantra was always “What can I do to help you?” When her strength allowed she roamed the hallways warning others to beware of the woman driver and always had a smile or hug for those she met. Her buddies got special service including walks to the elevator, kisses on the cheek and being remembered in her prayers. Her time at Parker Senior Living was short but her impact was large. That was evidenced by the visits, love and prayers that were showered on her in her time of need.

Now we come to the end of this story. The final chapter details the faith and love and therefore the hope that was embodied in Margaret’s life.

Margaret was a soldier of her faith. Just as she called Doctor “Doctor” so it was with her love and trust in her priests. Father was “Father”. She loved attending Mass and appreciated the love, support, and community she felt from everyone who welcomed her. The rosary was a mainstay in her life and she said it every Saturday before Mass and every Tuesday at Parker Senior Living in a group she helped to start. She basked in the attention as she left Mass when Deacon Pete would greet her with a hug and a boisterous “Mom”. She thought it would be very nice if Deacon Pete was in fact her son because then she would have a Deacon for a son and a Priest for a Grandson.

Lying in the ICU Marg’s character, history and faith were crystallized in a few magical moments. Her nurse was providing assessment and treatment. As she would cringe in reaction to the pain in her ribs her only question was “What can I do to help you dear?” Claudia a nurse Marg would be proud to know simply stated “You have done you part. I’ve got this”

Deacon Pete got to talk to “Mom” one last time. For 15 minutes they spoke and in a state of clearness not expected with her situation she asked of Pete’s wife Margaret and was thrilled to hear that Fr. Sean was including her in his prayers. With prayers and blessings they parted until they meet in heaven.

Margaret loved Fr. Tom. He had come to hear confessions at Parker Senior Living and the girls, none of them under the age of 90, acted like teenagers at a Frank Sinatra concert. He came to see her and gave a final blessing. Her eyes were closed and her daughter Kathy whispered in her ear “Mom, Fr. Tom is here”. The final words she ever spoke as she squeezed his hand was “Father Tom”.

There are people who make a difference in the lives of those around them. By example, by word, by faith, they make this world a better place and give us hope for tomorrow. They also remind us to take the time to experience the joy around us.

In October the Knights of Columbus held an Octoberfest at Ave Maria. Knowing the requirements she had placed on her husband in 1949 I asked her if she would honor me with a dance. We left her walker behind and walked to the dance floor. Though her body betrayed her we slowly began to dance and as the tempo increased so did the light in her eyes. With eyes as bright and beautiful as any 21 year old she grinned at me and said “Phil can we twirl?” You bet Marg. You bet.

In lieu of flowers people can make donation to Ave Maria Parish or Salvation Army.

~Phil Barenberg




Horan & McConaty - Parker
11150 E Dartmouth Ave
Aurora, CO US 80014
Monday, January 29, 2018
1:00 PM - 4:00 PM
Ave Maria Catholic Church
9056 E Parker Rd
Parker, CO USA 80138
Tuesday, January 30, 2018
10:30 AM - 11:00 AM
Funeral Mass
Ave Maria Catholic Church
9056 E Parker Rd
Parker, CO USA 80138
Tuesday, January 30, 2018
11:00 AM - 12:00 PM


The Salvation Army
3900 E. Arapahoe Rd.
Centennial, CO 80122
Ave Maria Catholic Parish
9056 E Parker Rd
Parker, CO 80138