Margaret Rosa Waters Harrell passed away on December 27, 2012, at the age of 94 in Portland, Ore. She was born on August 10, 1918, in King City to Edward and Juanita Waters and was baptized at St. John the Baptist Catholic Church. Margaret attended San Lorenzo School and King City Joint Union High School. Soon after high school, she married Roger Harrell, and soon after that, Roger enlisted in the U.S. Army and was sent to the European theater. Roger was killed in action in France shortly after D-Day while serving under General George Patton.
The widow Harrell then continued her education at Lux College in San Francisco, a school focused on providing technical training for women. As a Lux student, Margaret took courses at Bay Area universities including U.C. Berkeley and U.C. San Francisco. Remaining in San Francisco, she went on to be the executive assistant to the director of the Irwin Memorial Blood Bank for her entire professional life. During this period Margaret traveled internationally every year to Mexico, Japan, and Europe.
In 1983, Margaret retired, returned to King City, and took over primary care of her mother, Juanita. She was once again an active member of the St. John the Baptist Catholic Church. After her mother’s death, Margaret travelled to Ireland and enrolled in University College Dublin to study Irish history. On a subsequent trip to Italy, she visited the Vatican. She was unable to visit Pope John Paul II, which was unfortunate because she had hoped to possibly correct his beliefs about the role of women in the church.
Margaret was a long-standing member of Los Californianos, an organization comprising members whose ancestors arrived in Alta California before it became a state. Margaret is a descendant of José Maria Soberanes, who was a Spanish soldier with the first overland expedition from Sinaloa, Mexico, to Monterey, Alta California, led by Captain Gaspar de Portolà in 1769. Margaret was a master of her family tree and curator of her family’s artifacts. She singlehandedly populated a room at the Big Sur Historical Society Museum with artifacts associated with the marriage of her grandparents, Edmund Waters, a Scotch-Irish, and Rosa Laura Soberanes, whose family origins are in Catalonia, Spain.
At age 87 Margaret relocated to Portland, Ore., where she actively joined the Calaroga Terrace retirement community. Her first book, Food for Thought, was published on her 91st birthday. It is a chronicle of life in King City intermingled with family recipes. In her years at Calaroga Terrace she wrote nearly 100 memoirs, primarily documenting what was until then her family’s oral history.
Margaret was preceded in death by nearly all of her family (and friends), too numerous to mention. Her sole survivors are her nephew David (Susan) King and her grandniece, Mary-Suzanne (David) Lamkins.
Margaret will be put to rest in the Waters’ plot at the King City Cemetery in a private service.