“I just show up and participate.”
A native of South Bend, Marguerite grew up on North Francis Street in the shadow of the home her mother grew up in and amongst many family and friends. In reflecting on her life, she says, “I’ve had a really good life.” A graduate of John Adams High School, Marguerite’s life has been dedicated to maintaining and improving not only her neighborhood but also the neighborhoods of South Bend. For the last several years she has focused these efforts on the Northeast side neighborhood area where she worked in the poverty program during the Johnson era.
After working in the Head Start program, Marguerite retired, or thought she was going to retire and spend the next phase of her life relaxing. Three days later, at the call of Lou Nonni, Marguerite returned to work as a monitor at the Robinson Center, continuing a position she began as a volunteer. Throughout her life, Marguerite “never applied a job,” because her reputation as a committed, caring and dedicated woman preceded her.
During Marguerite’s time in the neighborhood she notes how residents were always at odds with the students living there because the students had been told that South Bend was dangerous. However, as Marguerite says, “It wasn’t,” and she wasn’t afraid to say this because “I can tell you off really nicely, but I try not to be mean about it. I tell the truth.” However, more than merely speaking her mind, Marguerite has continually acted to bridge this divide and to improve the neighborhood for all of its residents.
Marguerite’s commitment to South Bend is also demonstrated through her participation on several boards of community organizations. For Marguerite, board involvement is another form of socializing and meeting people, “I very seldom go to parties, but I like boards.”
Marguerite summarizes her life philosophy as, “You can’t sit on the outside and complain about what’s going on in the inside if you have the opportunity to go inside.”
- South Bend Hall of Fame
- Board member, Urban Youth Services, Charles Martin Center
- Board member, REAL Services Advisory Board
- Board member, South Bend Heritage Foundation
- Board member, Northeast Neighborhood Revitalization Organization
- Board member, Leads, Goodwill Industries of Michiana, Inc.
- Member, First AME Zion Church
Information compiled from oral history collected by The Michiana Women Leaders Project
Marguerite was honored at Celebrating Michiana Women Leaders 2016.