Margaret Burkholder Deitrich, of Denver, Colorado, passed away on April 4, 2023, at the age of 88.
Margaret was born on November 26, 1934, to Thelma and Royal Burkholder of Center, Colorado. Margaret always said the best thing about growing up in the San Luis Valley were the weekly trips to the library. The love of books helped her survive being born in a rural locale that did not suit her personality. Her father, a farmer and a teacher taught her to read quite young. When a librarian did not allow her to check out a book she wanted to read, for fear that it was too mature for her, Royal advocated for his precocious daughter. He instructed the librarian “if Mary Margaret can read the book, she may read the book”.
Margaret’s father was her hero and his death from colon cancer, when she was in high school, was a defining trauma of her life. She remarked that the death of a parent, at a young age, is something you deal with, but never get over.
Margaret was precocious in many ways. Besides reading, she was a clever young party planner. The first time she was invited to a kindergarten wide birthday party, she decided to have one for herself. She proceeded to invite the class to her house for her birthday. Unfortunately, it wasn’t her birthday, and her mother was unaware of the hastily planned party. Oops! She loved parties ever since and only got better at organizing the details.
Margaret grew-up among generations of family and a slew of cousins of all ages. She got her own little brother when she was 4 ½ . Unlike Margaret, Craton Burkholder loved the outdoors and became adult friends, not only with Margaret, but with her outdoorsman, husband Dick.
Margaret and Dick (Richard Adam Deitrich) grew up only a few miles from each other, both on Center farms. Dick was 3 ½ years older and drove the bus Margaret travelled on to high school. They began dating in college while attending the University of Colorado. They married in January of 1954 and honeymooned in Colorado Springs and later moved to Denver. With a honeymoon in Colorado Springs and bus trips to and from school, no one would have guessed that Margaret and Dick would become world travelers. Their trips were some of the best times they spent together.
Margaret aspired to a career, in addition to homemaker, but delayed pursuing further education as she began raising three daughters, Gay, Leslie, and Lori. To stimulate her considerable intellectual curiosity, she joined Mensa and spent many evenings debating ideas, politics and literature with a group of bright, if unusual, characters. When Lori, the youngest, started school, Margaret took the opportunity to go back to school herself and was admitted to the challenging clinical psychology program at the University of Denver. She confessed that if she had known how competitive the program was, she might not have had the confidence to apply. In fact, it was not easy to be a woman, raising children and attending graduate school. One of her professors was clear that he did not believe that women belonged in graduate school. She did not let that stop her and she completed her Ph.D., which required mastery of advanced statistics as well as therapeutic techniques and psychological testing methods. She did this despite the challenges of parenting responsibilities and accompanying Dick on his sabbatical year in Switzerland. Despite her primary responsibilities, Margaret also kept a beautiful flower garden and entertained with elegance.
After completing her Ph.D., Margaret opened her private practice and was known for psychological testing as well as psychodynamic psychotherapy. She had many close colleagues and enjoyed their company even after her retirement in her 70s. In retirement she and Dick traveled widely, and Margaret enjoyed spending time reading to her grandchildren and watching them develop into the people they became.
Margaret’s intelligence, capacity to communicate, and her good judgment were very important parts of her identity. It was with great sadness, that her family watched that part of her slip away as she succumbed to Alzheimer’s disease. Dick persisted in attempts to get Margaret into drug trials that might reverse her disease or slow her decline.
After Dick’s death in 2018, the family was fortunate to find caregivers that could come to her home and help care for her. Margaret enjoyed her privacy and although she relished the company of several faithful caregivers, she often refused to allow even favorite caregivers into the home. The intervention of her neighbors, Robert and Kim Rosenthal was often necessary, to interrupt her feisty efforts to be alone. The family is grateful to Robert and Kim as well as caregivers Sandy, Shelly, and Patricia, who found ways to manage her feistiness with steady and gentle caring.
In December of 2021, Margaret fell and broke her arm, requiring her to enter a rehabilitation center and eventually memory care. The family is grateful that Margaret made new friends and spent many happy hours with staff and activities provided at Chelsea Place Memory Care.
Margaret is survived by her brother, Craton Royal Burkholder (Mardell); children, Gay Deitrich-MacLean (Bill), Leslie Shivers (Tom), and Lori Hight, niece Trevi Burkholder (Jero), and nephew Trent Burkholder; by grandsons Sean Shivers, Will MacLean, Michael MacLean (Courtney), Daniel Shivers and Aeron Hight and a great granddaughter, Sophronia, as well as many loving friends.
Services will be held at Horan and McConaty at 11150 E Dartmouth Ave, Aurora, CO 80014, on June 5 at 3 pm followed by a reception. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to the Alzheimer's Association.
Her family hopes she is enjoying good books to read, the companionship of her loyal dogs, and museums to tour with Dick.