Margaret Mary Burns Neer-Fleskes

May 5, 1920December 29, 2018

Margaret Mary Burns Neer-Fleskes was born May 5, 1920, the firstborn child of Peter and Winifred Kale of Rock Island, Illinois. Peter’s mother, mom’s grandma Kale, was called Ma by everyone including the garbage man. She was an orphan born in 1874 in Whatcheer Iowa. Ma married a German-American boy and had eight children, the oldest of whom was Peter. He was a soldier in WWI and married an Irish girl, Winifred Kelly upon returning home to Rock Island. Mom, who was always known as Margie or Marge, had five siblings born between 1922 and 1931: Bill, Winnie, Joseph, Mary Elizabeth, and John. The children all went to St Joseph’s School where mom’s cousins were some of her best friends. She met a handsome football player four years her senior at St. Joe’s High School. His name was John Burns and he became the love of her life. After high school mom did some secretarial training and worked at the Rock Island YMCA, Dad worked for the US Army Corps of Engineers. For three long years they scrimped and saved to get married. It was a different world when mom was young. A highlight of those years was a trip to she made to New York with three of her girl friends to see the World’s Fair: "The World of Tomorrow." She was nineteen that year, 1939, when the world was still trying to ignore the looming conflict. When the US entered World War II life changed for Marge and John. John was sent to Edmonton Alberta to work with other Corps workers at the hub of organization for building the Alaska Highway. They could not bear to be apart and John made arrangements to bring Marge to Edmonton to be married on February 22, 1943. Mom worked at the switchboard and they lived in married housing then a basement apartment with a couple that remained lifelong friends. When mom became pregnant she had to leave dad behind and return to Rock Island to live again with her parents and siblings. Eleanor was born April 24, 1944 just in time to see her dad off to Iwo Jima. He had been drafted. After the war John took a posting in Sausalito and the little family moved to California. In 1948 they were transferred to Walla Walla, Washington near the building of the McNary Dam. The next dam project headquarters was in Portland where they lived from then on. Marge and John bought their first house, a two-bedroom bungalow on 72nd Street. They joined St Rose Parish and enrolled Eleanor in third grade in 1952. Next began the baby years: Mary Kay was born in 1953, Meg in 1955, Anne in 1957, followed by the only son and last child, Joseph, in 1961. They moved to a bigger home on NE 53rd in 1956, which remained the family home for the next thirty years. Those were busy years of toddlers, diapers, school, sewing, Brownies, 4 H, Bridge Club, Catholic Daughters, dinner on the table at six every night, camping at the beach in the summers, and long road trips back to the family seat in Rock Island. The sixties and seventies were tough years for any mom with four teenage daughters but she always had the closeness of her marriage to sustain her. For 44 years they worked and played in tandem. Together they saw all five kids married and began an accumulation of eleven grandchildren. Dad passed away in 1987. That was a tough time but mom remained busy with her friends and volunteer work. The Providence Child Care Guild was the heart of her social life. At a bible study group through St Rose Marge met Arthur Neer. They married in 1993. He brought happiness back into mom’s life and for that, his winning smile, and love of play with the little ones we all loved him. Art passed away in 2000. Mom continued as always by helping her children with generous gifts, visits and travel. Two years later an old friend of the family and long time colleague of dad’s, Larry Fleskes, began to court Marge. They were married in 2003. They moved to a bungalow on 54rd and Stanton so close to St Rose that daily Mass was a short walk. Mom and Larry faced their health issues together, enjoyed family gatherings and spent their days in comfort and the love of each others company until Larry’s death in 2011. Marge chose Calaroga Terrace as her new home in 2010. She enjoyed the view of the West Hills from her room on the 15th floor, made many new friends and enjoyed visits from family and friends. She enjoyed the benefits of many cultural events and activities with new friends and old. Her monthly pinochle group was one of her most anticipated outings. In 2017 Marge lost the last of her five siblings, her beloved sister and travel companion, Winifred. Her health and mobility deteriorated and she moved reluctantly into assisted living in December. As we all know, growing old is not for the faint of heart but Marge moved through its progress with strength and grace. Marge is survived by daughters Eleanor Spangler (Joseph), Meg (Erich Obermayr), Anne Ebel (Eric), son Joseph (Joanne), eleven grandchildren, and four great-grandchildren.


  • In lieu of flowers please donate to Catholic Charities, Oregon Public Broadcasting, or the charity of your choice.


  • Funeral Service Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Margaret Mary Burns Neer-Fleskes

have a memory or condolence to add?

Liz Knox

January 2, 2019

Marge was a wonderful person. She always had wise words and kind thoughts for everyone. I treasure the times I got to be with her. Rest well in heaven, dear Marge. Please say hello to Mary Kay! ❤️

Karen Kale Olson

January 1, 2019

A beautiful family, a reflection of a beutiful mother. Rest in peace Aunt Marge. You will be missed.

With love