Life Story / Obituary
Strong and steadfast in her faith, Margaret Rudolph’s strength was exemplified through her ability to be resilient with the challenges that she faced in life. She was diligent and hardworking, determined and strong no matter the circumstances around her. A committed parent, and through the life she lived her proudest accomplishment was recognizing her children were also living out - their own personal faith. Frugal and resourceful, she made the most of whatever she was given, reflecting a life of gratitude and contentment. Although she will be deeply missed, Margaret leaves behind a timeless legacy that her loved ones will proudly carry on in her footsteps.
As war raged in Europe, in Meadville, PA, C. Martin Maxwell and his wife Harriette were pleased to announce the birth of their daughter, Margaret Ann, on September 15, 1940. She was raised in a small, rural community and shared stories of her own early endeavors of strawberry-picking, selling the berries to a local grocer and having fields of corn near enough that they could start a pot of water boiling, then go grab some ears of fresh sweet corn from the backyard. Margaret was the oldest of three Maxwell girls as she was joined in her family by her younger sisters, Mary Jane and Helen.
In many ways Margaret was a young girl of her generation. She took great pride in the fact that her father built one of their family homes. While he was working on it, Margaret was so proud to be able to follow along behind him, as his assistant of sorts. She looked forward to spending time with her grandparents and her adventures with Aunt Dot in Franklinville, New York. Margaret has been described as a tom-boy while growing up, and she also developed a desire to be self-sufficient at a young age. She grew up in the region West of Erie, Pennsylvania attending local schools, including Fairview High School.
It was in High School that Margaret met the young man of her dreams. His name was Ralph Rudolph, and they became friends and were in the same social group. They found they also had things in common, such as music and high academic goals. Margaret played the clarinet in the band. Both she and Ralph were Christians and involved in student ministries in school as well. Interestingly, he was the valedictorian while Margaret was the salutatorian. Because education was important to both she and Ralph, they continued their education at different colleges. Margaret went to Slippery Rock State Teachers College where she earned a degree in teaching. It was at the onset of her college education that her parents/family relocated to California for her father’s employment with IBM, she decided to stay in Pennsylvania.
During the college years, Margaret and Ralph (at Penn. State) remained in touch and eventually started dating. Falling in love and with a desire to spend the rest of their lives together, they were married in an intimate ceremony in her grandparents’ backyard in Franklinville in 1962. Margaret began teaching math at a Detroit-suburb middle school during Ralph’s graduate work in Chemistry at the University of Michigan, her teaching career brief, as in 1966 the coupled moved to Colorado Springs for Ralph to fulfill a 3-year undergraduate work-requirement at the Air Force Academy. While there, they welcomed their first two children into the family, Kevin and Carrie. Three years later, the young family moved back to Ann Arbor where Ralph worked as a Professor at the University of Michigan in the field of Inorganic Chemistry. It was in Ann Arbor where they completed the family with birth of Katy.
From the time she became a mother, Margaret fully immersed herself into the role. She remained at home and kept busy caring for her home and family. As a family they had a love of the outdoors - camping, canoeing and hiking. They didn’t have deluxe trailers but were more rustic, often going on overnight backpack trips and checking out National Parks. Later, Margaret was actively involved in the design for their full-size van to be converted to a camper on vacations. As a mother, Margaret could be strict in parenting and rules, but enjoyed playful times as well. She was an active part of her children’s lives including as a Girl Scout Leader and a Cub Scout Leader. With a love for music she encouraged her kids to be involved in music as well. Margaret was a gifted seamstress - made many Halloween costumes over the years, costumes for the kids’ school productions, her own clothing and both prom dresses and Katy’s wedding dress. The family was involved in the local Methodist church, where she also sang in the choir. Margaret taught faith to her kids through involvement in the church and even through the traditional hymns, such as a favorite, “Trust and Obey.” As faith was always a cornerstone in her life, and she was continually looking for ways she could serve others. Among her volunteer efforts were working with Habitat for Humanity, Stephen's Ministry and Handbell Choir. Many of her closest friendships arose from her Neighborhood Bible Study group. Margaret excelled at teaching her children to be independent, with a "Let me show you”- style of learning. She was ahead of her time in ways, too, as she was recycling before it was common, always had items to donate to others and being an advocate for having child safety items like car seats/safety belts before they were common.
Life was drastically changed for Margaret and her children after Ralph lost his battle with cancer in 1981. Widowed at age 40 and determined to be independent, she resumed employment on a part-time basis. Her frugal lifestyle, as well as many wise investments (those math skills at work!) helped her to succeed. Margaret lived by conservative values throughout her life and was a rule-follower. She also lived by conservative principles. After Ralph’s death, Margaret began taking her children to Eaton Rapids Campmeeting, a Holiness Family Camp. She made Campmeeting a priority in July every year for over 25 years, which was a very dear and special place to her heart. Margaret worked some part-time jobs through the years including as a bookkeeper for a home nursing company and then for Gross Electric. She was meticulous in this work, too, as she made sure everything balanced to the penny. Margaret also worked for Meijer for a few years. As the years went by she looked forward to becoming a grandparent, and it was a day to celebrate when each of her 8 grandchildren arrived. Although her children were spread out a bit, Margaret did treasure the time she spent together with family.
When she was in her early sixties, Margaret began showing signs of early onset Alzheimer’s disease. Since she was used to being independent, these were difficult adjustments for her to make. Margaret loved the mountains and had plans of traveling, but her plans simply had to change. In 2002, she moved to Muskegon to be closer to her daughters, which also included a year in Tennessee in 2004. An additional move brought her to Grand Rapids in 2005, as she moved into an Assisted Living environment – both at Porter Hills and the past 8 years at American House of Kentwood. She had always loved to talk in conversation with others, share stories, although she may be described socially as an introvert in groups. As her disease progressed, Margaret was grateful to her family for their support, but the last years of her life were difficult ones with declining memory and under Hospice care for many years.
In everything she did, Margaret Rudolph put her faith first and foremost. She was independent and proud of her accomplishments after her husband’s death, but she was also humble and quick to recognize that it was only through His strength. So proud of her family, there was nothing Margaret treasured more than being surrounded by her loved ones. She drew her last breath surrounded by the love of her family and the words to the song, “Come to Jesus” by Chris Rice. Margaret’s family finds comfort in knowing that she is enjoying perfect peace in her eternal home.
Margaret Ann Rudolph, age 77, and formerly of Ann Arbor, joined her Lord and Savior on January 11, 2018, after a long battle with Alzheimer's. She was preceded in death by her husband Ralph. Margaret is survived by her children: K. (Penny) Rudolph, Carrie (Michael) Baker, Katy (Richard) Spengler; grandchildren John, Aryanna and Nathan Rudolph, Sam and Zoey Baker, Kyle, Andrew, and Aaron Spengler; and her sisters, Mary Jane (Rich) Sasek, and Helen Maxwell. There will be no public service.