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Memorials: Palo Alto Friends Meeting

Margaret Fruth

Date of birth

March 25, 1951

Date of death

May 10, 2016


Palo Alto Friends Meeting

Memorial minute

Margaret Fruth, 65, died May 10, 2016, from complications related to a traumatic brain injury.  Born March 25, 1951, in Indianapolis, Indiana, Margaret was the second eldest of three daughters and one son born to Carroll and Catharine (Hershey) Fruth. After moves to Smyrna, Georgia, and Burbank, California, the family settled in Palo Alto, California, in 1959.

A 1969 graduate of Palo Alto High School, Margaret earned a double major in history and geography at Clark University in 1973. Living in New York the following several years, she worked as a workers' compensation claims examiner before transferring to San Francisco.

Margaret married Ken Uhland, whom she had met at a Mensa party. Shortly after the birth of their only child, the family relocated to Menlo Park, where Margaret spent six years on the city's Arts Commission. She spent her final seven years at Palo Alto Commons, where she used her history and geography knowledge to win resident competitions on a regular basis.

A lover of language, Margaret wrote creative prose and poetry from elementary school until her death. Besides winning several national writing awards and school scholarships, she earned the rare privilege of becoming a published poet. Margaret was also active in schools and local politics. She sat on the San Carlos Charter Learning Center governance council and was the PR officer for Aurora High School during both school's first year. She was also fiercely vocal in her opposition of the potential sale of Buena Vista, Palo Alto's last mobile home park.

Preceded in death by both parents and her husband, Margaret is survived by companion Larry Wechsler of Palo Alto, California; daughter Catharine Emma Hershey (Kenneally Harder) of San Jose, California; sister Pat Severson (Stan) of El Cerrito, California; sister Cathy Matthews (Don Jr) of West Bloomfield, Michigan; brother Bob (Cynthia Finnell) of Seattle, Washington; niece Mary Matthews of Rochester Hills, Michigan; niece Elisabeth Severson (Meagan Bemer) of Seattle, Washington; nephew Donald Matthews III (Kate Hummel) of Findlay, Ohio; and nephew Zak Fruth of Seattle, Washington.

Memorial Statement

My mother was to me, and I'm sure to many others, the most infuriating person on the planet. But I loved her dearly. The kind of frustration she brought out in people also commanded a great deal of respect. Her honestly could be brutal but it was always from the heart and without malice.

Margaret was extraordinarily smart and clever. Besides winning writing awards in school, she completed a double major in college, graduating within four years. I remember debating with her about whether "alot" was one word or two. She insisted it could be either, with the singular word having wiggled its way into the English lexicon, like "confuzzled" or "d'oh". I sent her an email that night, linking to a post from a favorite blogger of mine. In the post she had described the alot monster and drew pictures of what she imagined when someone would say, "I love this a lot" or "This is alot of fire", showing an "alot"-shaped fireball. The conversation I had with my mother occurred within the last ten years. It was then, and no moment earlier, I realized that my mother does not, in fact, know everything.

Besides being extremely active in local politics and schools, Margaret was a strong presence here, at Palo Alto Friends Meeting, for many years. She attended Meeting for Worship regularly, and showed interest in both Worship itself and in other varied Quakerly activities. Because she held such strong views on several different social issues, she would challenge Meeting and all of us to become more active. She would often suggest Meeting support particular bills before Congress or the California Legislature or support particular candidates.

Anyone who knew Margaret knew of her signature notebooks and her gift for the written word. She often created beautiful poetry while sitting in Meeting. Inspiration would send her scribbling in her notebook before she stood to share her "instant creation" with those present. Her presence in Meeting and in all of our lives will be greatly missed.