Monday, September 19, 2005

Obituary: Margaret A. Lalor - Class of 1930

TOWN OF DUNN - Margaret A. Lalor, age 94, a retired Madison teacher and local political activist who was a lifelong resident of the Town of Dunn, died on Saturday, Sept. 17, 2005, at the Don and Marilyn Anderson HospiceCare Center. She had suffered a stroke Monday. Miss Lalor taught first grade in the Madison public schools for 43 years starting in 1934. She spent her entire teaching career in the same room at the same school, Room 107 at Lowell Elementary on the city's east side. She estimated that about 1350 children had been her students and she was particularly proud of having taught so many youngsters to read, considering that her greatest achievement. Even after mandatory retirement age forced her to give up teaching she continued to go back to the school for more than ten years to read to the children as a volunteer. She also returned to lead the school's annual Halloween Parade. Miss Lalor was born July 4, 1911, on her family's 160 acre farm between Madison and Oregon, the youngest of the four children of James H. and Anna Keeley Lalor. Her grandfather, an Irish immigrant, staked his claim on the land in 1847, after noticing a productive spring. As a girl, Miss Lalor went to the rural Swan Creek School until it closed, finishing grade school in Oregon. After graduating from Madison Central High and Milwaukee State Teacher's College, she began her job at Lowell School. Later in her career she became active in the Madison Teachers Inc., serving on the union's negotiating committee and speaking out forcefully on key issues that led to the 1976 strike against the school district. After retirement she volunteered with Meals on Wheels, the Oregon Council on Aging and became extremely active in local politics in the Town of Dunn. Cal DeWitt, a University of Wisconsin professor who was then town chairman, appointed her as one of the original members of the town's Planning Commission. She continued to serve until moving to the Attic Angel Place Health Care Center in 2002. She attended countless meetings, often sparring heatedly with real estate developers and their attorneys. Once at a legislative hearing in the State Capitol, she spoke out from the gallery, taking a prominent lobbyist to task for his testimony about a proposed landfill. She exclaimed "How can you say those things when you know you are wrong? That's not the way I taught you in the first grade, and I'm ashamed of you." In preparing to deal with encroaching real estate development pressure, the town first declared a two-year moratorium while it drafted a development plan designed to keep growth orderly, gradual and controlled. The plan won public acceptance and has since become a model for communities throughout the country. Most recently the town established a conservation easement program in cooperation with the Dane County Natural Heritage Foundation, and Miss Lalor was among the first participants, selling development rights to her property while retaining ownership of the land. Miss Lalor's three siblings preceded her in death, George Lalor in 1970, Phil Lalor in 1978, and Lucille Lalor Curran in 1989. Her survivors are her nephew, Timothy Lalor Curran (Kathy) of Overland Park, Kan.; three great-nephews, Dan Curran (Lisa) of Wauwatosa, Nick Curran of Washington, D.C., and Brendan Curran (Casey) of Shawnee, Kan.; a great great- nephew, Frank Curran of Shawnee, Kan.; a great great- niece, Allison Curran of Wauwatosa; and her first cousins and dear friends, Ellen Green and Kathleen Harty, both of Fitchburg. A Mass of Christian Burial will be held on Tuesday, Sept. 20, 2005, at 10:30 a.m. at HOLY MOTHER OF CONSOLATION CATHOLIC CHURCH, 651 N. Main St., Oregon with Father Bill Connell presiding. Burial will follow in St. Mary's Cemetery, Oregon. Visitation will be held on Monday, Sept. 19, 2005, from 5 p.m. until 8 p.m. at the church. Memorials are suggested to the Attic Angel Association, 640 Junction Rd., Madison, Wis. 53717, or the University of Wisconsin Arboretum. Gunderson Oregon Funeral & Cremation Centers 431 Soden Drive (608) 835-3515

Originally published in the Wisconsin State Journal on September 19, 2005

Note: Margaret Lalor's graduating class is based on information in the 1930 Tychoberahn.

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