Margaret Lewis Hellberg passed away on December 4, 2022, in Olympia surrounded by family. Born in Reading, Pennsylvania in 1944, Margaret was the eldest of three children of parents Warren and Catharine Miller Lewis. Her family settled in Richland due to her father’s work at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation. She and her brothers, John and Steve Lewis (Diane Westfahl), graduated from Richland High School.
Margaret met Fred Hellberg, her loving husband of 56 years, at the University of Washington (UW). After graduating with political science degrees, Margaret and Fred were married and served two years in the Peace Corps in Panama. While developing cooperatives and teaching health education they became fluent in Spanish. After returning to the U.S., their son, Jason (Jennifer Joly), and daughter Alison (Todd Cutts) were born.
Margaret was a dedicated educator. She began teaching at Mesa High School in Arizona in early 1970s. After moving to Olympia, Margaret taught at Jefferson Middle School and Olympia High School (OHS). She was also counselor at OHS. Margaret earned her MA in education administration attending night classes at UW Seattle. She was honored to become the founding principal of Rochester Middle School. Margaret retired in 2002 as the vice principal of OHS. Margaret cared deeply for her students, families, and colleagues. In retirement, she mentored new principals and vice principals and maintained enduring connections with former students and educators.
Margaret was a founding member of the League of Women Voters of Thurston County. She was a trusted advisor and campaign manager for many successful political campaigns. Margaret was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1977 and was active in the Multiple Sclerosis Society, speaking at conferences and serving as a mentor to people with disabilities and recently diagnosed with MS.
Margaret loved to travel and study ancient cultures, learnings she shared with her students. She and Fred were able to travel the world, including China, Cuba, and Egypt. She also visited her children when they studied and lived abroad in Spain, Mexico, Finland, and Fiji.
Margaret delighted in being a grandmother to six grandsons: Lucas, Matthew, and Patrick Hellberg, and Eero, Maxwell, and Holden Cutts. Margaret and Fred were also grateful for the care and support of Madison and Audrey Lane. Margaret wrote the following advice to her grandchildren that she learned from her parents: "Happiness often comes from within. Learn how to tame negative thoughts and approach every day with optimism."
Margaret approached each day with optimism and was grateful for the love of her family, friends, and accomplices. A Celebration of Life will be held in Margaret’s honor on Sunday, January 8th, 2023, 1:00 pm at the Olympia High School Performing Arts Center and online by livestreaming. In lieu of flowers, remembrances may be made to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society or the Olympia Education Foundation Principal’s Emergency Fund.
Below are links to more insights into Margaret's incredible life and legacy...