Margaret H. Harmon, 93, died peacefully on Jan. 1, 2023, released from the shackles of Alzheimer’s disease. Born on Dec. 22, 1930, in Oak Park, she was the younger of two daughters of James and Mary (nee Daly) Hanley. Marge and her sister, Mary, graduated from Ascension School before each learned to navigate the multiple buses that took them to Immaculata High School on Lake Shore Drive at Irving Park Road. She earned a bachelor’s degree from Mundelein College, now part of Loyola University Chicago.
It was through her best friend at Immaculata that she met Don Harmon, her true love, whom she married in January 1964. They spent one year living the glamorous life in an apartment on Sheridan Road, overlooking Lake Michigan. Then they made their inevitable return to Oak Park to start their family, surrounded by parents and siblings.
Don died of cancer in 1977, leaving her widowed at age 46 with three children, ages 10, 7 and 5. She raised her children in their Elmwood Avenue home without an ounce of self-pity. She said more than once that she tried so hard to fill the role of a dad that she might have forgotten how to be a mom. Not true. She was more likely to be found mowing the lawn, installing a ceiling fan or stripping woodwork than cooking, knitting or decorating, but her failure to fit the era’s stereotype of a mother did nothing to lessen her kids’ view of her.
Eventually she went back to work as a church secretary and later a bookkeeper for a series of small businesses in and around Oak Park. Every January through April for roughly 20 years, she also volunteered preparing income taxes for seniors through an Oak Park Township program, happy and honored to be serving her community.
Time with friends and family was the joy of her life. Besides being a wonderful mother, she was a loyal “Bookie” (nickname for her bookclub friends who rarely read books but never failed to meet), a favorite aunt to 25 nieces and nephews, and a one-of-a-kind “Gram” to her eight grandchildren. She was loved for her reliability, kindness, intelligence, strength and wit, which could make a bad day better and a good day brilliant.
Marge is survived by her son, Don, and his wife, Teresa (Teri); her daughter, Julia, and her husband, Jeff Bell; her daughter, Elizabeth (Liz), and her husband, Christopher Miller; as well as grandchildren, Don, Frances and Maggie Harmon, Daniel, Sean and Maeve Bell, and Emmet and Declan Miller. All of them — along with her nieces and nephews and their families — celebrate her reunion with her husband and a whole generation of Harmons who went before.
Visitation will be held on Friday, Jan. 6, from 4 to 9 p.m. at The Elms Funeral Home, 7600 W. Grand Ave. (Turn north at 76th Ave.), Elmwood Park. Funeral prayers will take place on Saturday, Jan. 7, at 9:15 a.m. at The Elms, before proceeding to St. Giles Catholic Church, 1045 Columbian Ave., Oak Park, for Mass at 10 a.m. Interment at Queen of Heaven Cemetery will be private.
In lieu of flowers, a donation in Marge’s name to Trinity High School would be appreciated.