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Margret H. Kolbjornsen, resident of Summerhill Assisted Living, Peterborough, died February 3, 2018 at the age of 94. She was the daughter of Hermann and Elisabeth Sieck Haertel, born in Hannover, Germany in 1923. Her family came to New York City aboard the M/V Thuringia in 1926 and settled in New York City. In a neighborhood snowball fight in 1933 she met the just-off-the-boat Norwegian boy who would become her husband. She attended Staten Island schools and earned a BS in Mathematics from Douglass College in 1946.
Margret loved the outdoors and chose a career as National Field Director with the Girl Scouts of America; her partner was Ann Cavanaugh Eneguess of Peterborough. In 1948 Margret married John Kolbjornsen and moved to Denmark where he served in the American Embassy, Copenhagen, and where their first child was born. They returned in 1952 and settled in Cambridge, Massachusetts where John attended Harvard Divinity School and where they welcomed a second daughter. Two sons were born in the next few years. After John's ordination to the Unitarian ministry they served churches in Sharon, Massachusetts, Williamsville, New York, Norwell, Massachusetts, Sioux City, Iowa and Springfield, Vermont.
In 1971 Margret received an Med and began teaching Sixth Grade Math and Science in the Durham, New Hampshire Schools. After her retirement and their move to Peterborough, she served as a substitute teacher in all the ConVal Elementary Schools. Like her mother, Margret had a beautiful singing voice and she sang throughout her life, beginning in Church choirs as a child, and in all their Churches and the Buffalo Schola Cantorum, the Scituate Choral Society, the Morningside Singers in Sioux City, the Seacoast Singers in Durham, and for the past 26 years, the Monadnock Chorus from which she retired two days before her 93rd birthday.
Her summer vacations were spent visiting her German cousins and traveling in Europe. She enjoyed the Christmas Markets in Munich. In several trips she sailed the Danube from it's source to the Black Sea. Star Island, a UU Conference Center off Portsmouth, was part of her summers as well; she attended the Natural History Conference, beginning in 1974, and volunteered in the Island Gift Shop.
Margret was born into a family of professional gardeners and had two green thumbs, one for her vegetable garden and one for house plants. She once smuggled a fancy orchid cutting from Europe in her suitcase; it still blooms every summer.
Her hands were always busy with knitting, and she spearheaded the creation of "Comfort Dolls" by her friends and relatives, which have been taken by local physicians on medical missions to Ethiopia, Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Cuba and Peru.
On New Year's Day, 2015, she moved to Summerhill Assisted Living where she bloomed under their extraordinary care, made wonderful new friends and kept the house plants watered.
Margret was predeceased by her parents; her husband, Rev. John M. Kolbjornsen; her sister, Christa Kinne of Key West, Florida; her brother, Major Hermann Haertel (Ret) of San Antonio, Texas. She is survived by her brother, Dr. Manfred Haertel and his wife, Leone, of Columbus, Ohio; by her children and their spouses: Susy and Tom of Peterborough; Elise and Phil Anton of Palmer, Massachusetts; Peter and Debbie Kolbjornsen of York, Maine; Dr. Paul and Kim Kolbjornsen of Northampton, Massachusetts; 18 nieces and nephews, and her grandchildren, Molly and Sam, Doug, Arianna and Ben Anton, Kate, Andrew, and Tory Kolbjornsen, and her great-granddaughter, Madelyn Alice Anton.
A Memorial Service will be held on Saturday, March 24, at the Peterborough Unitarian Universalist Church. At her request, memorial donations in her name may be made to the Church and to Summerhill Assisted Living.
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