Let her always remain in our hearts and in all the things she loved in the world.
  • 74 years old
  • Born on December 24, 1944 in New York, New York, United States.
  • Passed away on March 15, 2019 in Fresno, California, United States.

This memorial was created in honor of Margaret Helen Stockhill of Raymond, California. Margaret was born on December 24, 1944 in New York and passed on March 15, 2019. She is survived by her husband, Ross, and her daughter, Sarah. In her younger years, Margaret was a boat builder, a backpacker and loved hiking with her dog, Thud. In her older years, she loved dark beer, good grammar and the New Yorker. Throughout her life she had a passion for knowledge and a strong sense of social justice.

Margaret was loved by many and will be dearly missed by all of her friends and family.

Posted by Margaret Brittingham on September 9, 2019
Somehow I knew that Margaret was gone, not having heard from her at Christmas and dreading her illness or passing was the reason. Margaret was my friend down the hall at our UCLA dorm in 1963. She was independent and tender and the one friend who came to my dance concerts. She grew to be a friend of my mother as well. Various moves made spaces in our friendship, but meetings always meant the same warmth. When she and Ross drove my older cousin to our wedding, the cousin told my mother, "They should be married," and I'm so glad they were. We made plans to meet in New York City much later when both Sarah and our son Jim were living there, but never brought it off. I'm missing her humor, the great meals we shared, her wonderful word sense, the times we spent on hikes in nature's beauty and peace. Reside there, Margaret, where we will all meet again.
Posted by Connie Stewart on July 15, 2019
I'm one of the luckiest people in the world that Margaret made the effort to make friends with me when I was new at my first job. Her husband's job required a lot of travel, and she would often stop by my lab in the late afternoon and say, “I have a coupon for ____ restaurant. Would you like to eat dinner there this evening?” I had such a good time visiting with her on those evenings, and I've had a wonderful time knowing her in the years since.
I've sometimes said that she and I had to stay friends because we both knew too much, but that statement wasn't really true. It was true that we did many crazy and fun things in those past years but never anything that couldn't be published, and it was NO effort—only a lot of joy--to stay friends with her.
Some of the fun things we did was to attend—along with a group of friends—many concerts at Winterland, Kezar Stadium, the Oakland Coliseum, and the Cow Palace. Poor Margaret always ended up driving because she was the only one of the group who had a full-size car. I often think of all the times I snoozed leaning against a backseat window while the red Volvo rolled home down 280 or 101. Thank goodness, other friends were decent enough to stay awake and talk to our generous driver!
One time, Margaret and I nearly got into a riot as we were purchasing tickets for a Who concert—the Who's Quadrophenia Tour. Several of our friends who were intense Who fans could not get off work at the time the tickets went on sale (10:00 am on a weekday) at the (now closed) Emporium Department Store in the Stanford Shopping Center so she and I bought as many tickets as the store allowed per person. The Emporium ran out of tickets shortly after we had purchased ours—with a lot of people still waiting in line, and some of the people who didn't get tickets started to get angry. She and I ran for our car and got out of there fast! After all that excitement Margaret decided she didn't really want to attend and gave her ticket to another friend. The concert she made one friend very happy to attend was the one where the Who's drummer, Keith Moon, passed out and an audience member came on stage and drummed for the rest of the concert.
I've seen the statement “friends are the family we choose for ourselves”, and that statement definitely applies to Margaret as a friend. I've celebrated and enjoyed many holidays with her, and I got to enjoy her daughter, Sarah, as a baby and as a child and as an adult. At most of the traumas in my life, Margaret appeared at my door bearing chicken soup or chocolate. 
Margaret's absence leaves a colossal empty place in my surroundings. She was a person I could laugh with and cry with, celebrate with and complain with.
My life has been 100% better because I got to have Margaret as a friend.
Posted by Sarah Stockhill on June 28, 2019
As we sat slumped over in a garden of orange trees and cacti outside of my mom’s hospice facility, my father told me a story that I have been unable to shake. A couple of weeks before my mom’s passing, while she was still upright and able and completely unaware of what was to come, she saw an owl.

Sitting on her porch, overlooking the sloped and darkened hills of the Sierras, she said that this owl spoke to her, and jarred by the experience, stepped inside to tell my father about the mysterious encounter.

For anyone that knows my mother, you know how bizarrely disjointed this story is. My mom never sat well with mystery. She had composed a collection of certainties in her life, and she fiercely maintained them- certainties about the changes that needed to happen in our world to preserve the environment, certainties about a justice for those that had been squashed under the boot of inequality…but uncertainly like this was not in her collection.

The last book she read was book I recommended to her called “impossible owls” by Brian Phillips. It’s a collection of essays ranging on topics physically and emotionally all over the human map- from covering the Alaskan Iditarod, sumo wrestling culture in Japan, man-eating tigers in India to the prevalence of UFO stories along the old route 66, the book is truly a collection of oddities. Owls appear in almost every essay, acting as the gatekeepers between the known and the unknown world. Owls seem to appear just as the world seems unknowable in its vastness and complexity- around unexplained phenomenon and in that twilight hour when any metamorphosis seems possible. They appear as strange but comforting creatures-giving a sense of peace nestled deep in that uncertainty.

My mom’s encounter with this owl has been a strangely shaped puzzle piece of her death- it’s the piece with dark and tangled colors and unmatched edges that doesn’t seem to have a home in the rest of the ordered whole.

I have been unable to write much about my mom- because everything was simultaneously tender and untouchable. I wanted death to somehow be couched in a greater narrative- I wanted to weave a story of “why” around her death, to cocoon and comfort my pain. I think I just wanted my pain to know that it was here for a reason.

Death sits uneasily at the edges of our stories, beckoning us to try and categorize it and to give it a place at the table. But instead, maybe it should just flit by on the outskirts, mysterious and unknowable, like an owl coming in and out of our sight for only a moment before it disappears into the dusk- a way of reminding us that our time on this strange rock is brief and sacred and full of impossible owls.
Posted by Sue Speziale on May 27, 2019
After watching the documentary film Free Solo about a climb of El Capitan in Yosemite, I was thinking about a backpacking trip with Margaret and other friends so many years ago. Such good memories of our years in California! One of my favorite trips with Margaret and friends was to Lake Tahoe for Thanksgiving. One evening Margaret & my daughter Allyson made coffee ice cream. Allyson was about 6 or 7 years old and was up wired all night! Margaret was such a free, loving spirit and lover of nature. While we didn't see each in our later years, I appreciated the fact that we kept in touch via Christmas cards and then Facebook.  Miss you Margaret!! Much love to you Ross and Sarah.
Posted by Carla Garcia on May 18, 2019
It has taken me so long to write this because I have so many fond memories of Margaret that it is hard to summarize them. I met Margaret while working for the USGS, Water Resources Division, in the early 90's and we became good friends. When I retired, I missed seeing and chatting with Margaret everyday, but we stayed in touch and communicated by phone and email often.
We had a tradition of sharing a Starbucks Eggnog Latte every Holiday season. When we were not able to physically share our Eggnog lattes together anymore, we'd email or call and check to see if we'd had our annual Eggnog lattes yet. We also shared a love of dark beers. Margaret loved Deschutes Black Butte Porter and would tell me about the latest stouts she'd found at Trader Joe's.
I so enjoyed talking to her and reading her latest emails. Margaret was so witty and smart. We'd talk about all sorts of things, events, world happenings, people we wondered about from work, Ross's latest hikes, on and on. I miss getting emails from her and hearing about what's new in Coarse Gold, how the weather is, what Sarah's been up to, all the things that seem so mundane and yet so important.
I miss Margaret so much and find it so hard to believe that she is gone. Margaret was a very special person, a one-of-a-kind friend I will never forget and never stop missing.
Posted by Laurie Hershey on May 15, 2019
Margaret, my sister-in-law, one of the finest persons I have known.. She was very smart and a voracious reader. She was a gentle soul who was quick forgive and always saw the good in people. She advocated for what was right without being vindictive and, without knowing it, inspired me to be more like her. She was thoughtful, tolerant, kind and so much more. I think of her often and will miss her forever.
Posted by Carol Thenot on April 29, 2019
I am so pleased to have spent Christmas 2018 with Margaret and Ross in Santa Maria guests of Wanda a college friend, We've known one another almost since the beginning of time. The feature I remember most is her humor and laughter. I can picture her with her silver hair laughing at her Christmas-birthday present - it wasn't her birthday! But she was pleased with the chocolate.
Posted by Adeline Shrewsbury on April 11, 2019
My husband, Clarke, daughter Regina, and I spent many unforgettable lovely times (Thanksgivings, Christmases, other gatherings) with Margaret, Ross and Sarah. Margaret will be sorely missed.
Posted by Keith Kirk on April 10, 2019
I will always remember Margaret fondly as a friendly and talented coworker in the USGS Office of the Regional Hydrologist. She was always very caring and we shared many conversations on politics and book recommendations. She took good care of all of us in the office and greatly eased my move from Denver to Menlo Park.
Posted by Karen O'Mara on April 10, 2019
Many years ago, Margaret and I worked a book fair together for the school our kids attended. She was so nice and talkative and organized for that book fair. Later, while I was working a weekend job at Village Lake Apartments, Margaret told me about a job vacancy at the USGS. I thought I wasn't qualified for the job, but Margaret encouraged me to apply. I got the job and am very grateful to her. I was lucky to work with her for several years at the USGS and enjoyed working with her very much. Margaret was appreciated and respected by her colleagues for her hard work and dedicated service. When she retired I missed her a lot. I saw her once after her retirement when she stopped by my house when her and Ross were visiting friends in San Jose. We had coffee and chatted for hours. I wish I had offered her more that day. Miss you Margaret. So sorry Sarah and Ross for the loss of your dear Margaret.
Posted by Heather Hershey on April 9, 2019
Margaret was a wonderful aunt. She came to visit us in Salem when we were children and I have fond memories of her playing her guitar and singing for us. She showed me around Stanford when I was looking at colleges. She never missed my birthday. I always enjoyed her sense of humor, her adventurous spirit, her knowledge, and her passion to support what is right in the world. One of my favorite memories is coming back from a hike at Yosemite to Margaret and Ross waiting with cold beer and big bowl of guacamole and chips. Hanging out on their deck and talking was a little piece of heaven. I will miss her very much.

Leave a Tribute