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Demaine Funeral Home

5308 Backlick Road, Springfield, VA

OBITUARY

Margherita Steinhoff Smith

May 24, 1922February 12, 2020

She had many dimensions. She said that she was a “PK” -- preacher’s kid -- growing up as the daughter of a Lutheran minister. She was always religious. She liked telling Bible stories. She admired her mother, and she adored her father. She was proud of her sister and two brothers. In college, she majored in psychology; she always considered a psychological understanding of matters. She also began a lifelong interest in acting and in oral poetry recital. She met Rufus Smith in college. She liked to tell the story of how they were married in a taxi. She was dedicated to her husband. She thrived in the roles which came with his career: first an army spouse, then a Foreign Service spouse. She found fulfillment in the lifestyle -- moving and living in new and different places, in accord with assignments. She was proud to be a loyal American, giving service to her government. She also liked to be a world citizen, with respect for, and with understanding of, other cultures. She especially valued the direct contacts with individual people, of Amsterdam, of Panama, of Ottawa, of Chiang Mai. And she continued, with dedication, after acquiring polio at the age of 29. (Tragically, this was just a few months before vaccines became available.) She was a dedicated mother, eager to support and involve herself in the activities of her sons. Later in life she developed a fascination with flower arranging as an art. Then she began her own career as a professional proofreader, which she pursued enthusiastically, soon developing expertise. Indeed, she wrote textbooks and gave seminars, achieving renown. Then she began writing poetry, short stories, and novels. She was partly inspired by children’s books and fantasy tales, especially those involving friendly dragons. Her novels included ”Overturned Hearts” and “Search for Elizabeth.” She was deeply affected by the loss of her husband, but she ultimately managed it with grace. She was an appreciator of music, especially composed by Bach. She loved her long term friendships. She was always eager to hear about her grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and her extended family of siblings, nieces and nephews, as well as their families. Ultimately, her post-polio syndrome progressed to a loss of all movement. She remained a caring and supportive mother. She conveyed to her sons a love of America, of world diversity, of music, of writing and literature, of fantasy, and of family. She will be missed.

Services

  • Memorial Service Saturday, February 29, 2020

Memories

Margherita Steinhoff Smith

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Barbara Hart

March 16, 2020

When we both lived in Elan Mews and for years afterwards, Peggy was my mentor.

I used Peggy's proofreading manual, Mark My Words, while teaching at George Washington University, University of Virginia, Howard University, and EEI and in custom-designed classes for clients. She was creative and imaginative and an inspiration to all those in publishing who learned major portions of their craft from her text.

Her brilliant light will be missed.

Matthew Smith

March 5, 2020

The Dragons’ Requiem
One day in youth, she flew. Her legs had left.
The air, new footing for her strides and sways.
She soared in pride with creatures of the sky,
Aside the wings and gentle fire of things
Celestial, birds and dragons who abide
The heavens, souls in kind. They shared the breeze,
The silver winds. They chimed in chorus, rhymed
And charmed, in time, and nurtured magic.

She filled her brood with magic. In her gaze,
Enchantment; alchemy in touch. Her songs
Were incantations; words were sorcery.
The heart she felt and gave, the blood she bled,
Elixirs of empowerment and health. 

She fared, with grace. She held. She made, she mixed,
She spelled. She won, and when she lost, she won.
She thrived. In all, her quickness never quelled,
Her presence never paled. Her words, too, wagged
And never waned. But then time tolled and looked
And took. The shapes had shifted. Powers pulled,
Were pushed. Forms were filled and fanned and then
Were folded. Feathers fell, and magic, too,
Was softened, as it melted, as it molted.

She moved to know and feel again the earth.
The final flight she shed her wings and stood
On firmament. She stepped and strolled,
And then she danced. That day, the last, that was
A day of glory. On that day she left.

That day a pulse was noted underfoot,
And sounds rolled up from lakes. The winds blew soft
In warm arpeggios. The sky became
Uneasy, wiggled, and began to shake.

And then the birds and dragons swarmed
And darted, swooped in gold salute, with strains
Of dragon music, tones of throat and teeth
And fire, while crooning descants, purrs, and howls,
In chords that burst and shiver marrow, heard
In mist and seen in shadow, airs of flame
And love and loss and mourning, holy in
Their throbbing resonance.

Transfigured in her magic, she'd become
A glorious chorale.

Matthew Smith

March 2, 2020

Yesterday was the memorial service for my mother.
Bach music played in the background.
Rev Moshier’s words combined articulations of loss and tribute, religious and philosophical meanings, as well as his personal sharing —as well as practical emceeing.
I read three poems, one of which I wrote. Leora read two poems that my mother wrote.
Gregory Hoff, her nephew, admired her positive outlook.
Betty Mills spoke of their deep and lengthy friendship. Melissa Mills recalled, especially, her playfulness. Rosemary Christianson related how they met and became close. Her son also offered some words.
I found it dignified, respectful, loving, and I was moved and honored to have been her son. I will miss her.