FMS secretary helped thousands in 38 years on job

‘Be kind’

Margaret Edgerton left a message on the desk for her successor after almost four decades as the secretary at Fredonia Middle School: “Be kind.”

She spent her career living by that motto, and her kindness touched thousands.

“She’s very caring and very thoughtful and helpful,” said her daughter, Diane. “If someone forgot their lunch money then she would go in the little kitty they have and say ‘OK, here you go.’

“Anything that they forgot she would call their parents. ‘Oh, so and so forgot their gym shoes today.’ She practically ran the school.”

Margaret started at the middle school in 1980 when Dick Glenzer was principal, after teaching preschool at the First Baptist Church for 11 years. She wound up working with 10 different principals over the years. In an interview Thursday afternoon at her cozy Fredonia ranch home, she said her motivation for working with children for so long was simple.

“I just like being with kids and helping them,” she said. “Having four of my own, I’ve had plenty of practice.”

She said the building she worked in changed much over the years. Rooms have switched back and forth between classrooms, music rooms and cafeterias, and rooms were added during the district’s multi-million dollar capital project about 20 years ago. She also noted Fredonia’s drop in class sizes over the years and that fifth grade was added to the middle school while she was there.

As for technology, Margaret was comfortable with computers but retained a love for classic secretarial equipment.

“I still have my typewriter,” she said. “The kids would come in. ‘What’s she doing?’ ‘Typing.’ ‘Is that a typewriter?’ It was hilarious. Some of the teachers… would send kids down to have me show them what a typewriter is because they don’t know.

“I don’t think there was a day that went by that I didn’t use it for something,” she added.

Though the technology changed over the years, the job itself really didn’t.

“It pretty much stayed the same, because there are certain things you have to do year after year after year,” Margaret said.

One such thing: processing the locks on the lockers. “She’d have to open every lock, and make sure the locks worked, and assign them to the lockers,” Diane said.

“When I left, there was a table just covered with padlocks. I thought, ‘Good, I don’t have to do those again,'” Margaret said.

According to her daughter, “People were like, ‘Oh what she’d do all summer?’ I was like, ‘How do you think kids’ records get from the middle school to the high school and from the elementary to the middle?'”

Margaret said the people she encountered on the job helped keep her going. “I’ve worked with some absolutely wonderful people, which helps, and most of the kids,” she said. “I’ve seen lots of talented kids come through… excellent athletes and musicians.”

In retirement, she’s doing “whatever I want to.” One of those things was to sit on her porch and watch the buses go by on the first day of school Tuesday — with a gift from an admirer at her side.

“I had a lovely parent Monday night who came and brought me flowers. She said, ‘You have to have those for the first day of school.’ I said, ‘Wow.'”

Margaret concluded, “It’s been a wonderful experience. I’d like to use the Carol Burnett song, ‘And now it’s time to say goodbye.'”

Diane Edgerton wants the community to know that there will be a celebration of her mom and her long career at 1 p.m. Sept. 15 at Vineyards Golf Course. The party will be on the patio on the Hillview side.