Margaret "Margo" Dennis
March 10, 1918 – June 19, 2020
Margaret (Margo) Dennis died peacefully in her sleep on June 19, 2020 in Vancouver, WA. She was 102 years old. Born March 10,1918 in Yakima WA, she was the daughter of Goldie Flynn Ghormley and Reverend Charles Ghormley, former associate minister of the Yakima First Presbyterian Church and founder of Camp Ghormley.
Margaret was active in choir and youth activities in the church. She graduated from Yakima High in 1935 and Yakima Valley Junior College in 1937 and attended a year at the University of Washington. In September 1940, she married Wendell Freece whom she had known since high school and church youth activities.
Margaret and Wendell moved to the east coast when he became an FBI agent. They had two daughters. Carolyn and Linda. After Wendell’s death in 1946 from polio, Margaret returned to Yakima and sought means of supporting her two daughters.
She completed her college degree at Whitworth College in Spokane WA while working as night librarian at the college. Jobs during her 15 years as a widow included church secretary in Moscow ID, Registrar at the Wilson School of Music in Yakima, Teenage Program Director at the Yakima YWCA, and teaching 4th grade at Gilbert Elementary School . She also sang in the church choir, taught Sunday School, counseled at Camp Ghormley and was advisor to a college-age group.
During this time Carolyn and Linda had a wonderful life with their mom and grandmother with hikes in the mountains, family camp at Camp Ghormley, trips to the Vashon Island cabin, week-end trips to the ranch of friends in Cowiche, trips to visit cousins, musical concerts and some summer trips to National Parks and San Francisco.
In May 1961, Margaret married Robert Dennis, became “Margo” and acquired a larger family. Bob was a Major (later Lt. Col) in the USAF. In the next 11 years they lived in Oregon, Louisiana, Oklahoma and finally McChord AFB in Washington State.
Bob retired from the Air Force in 1972 and they moved to a ranch in Cowiche where they were visited often by their children and grandchildren. The grandchildren loved Grandma’s cookies and rides on the horses and the tractor with Grandpa. After 18 years they decided to move to a home with a swimming pool, popular with the now older grandchildren. Throughout this time, they traveled to graduations and weddings and other special occasions for the grandchildren. The addition of great-grandchildren gave Margo a new name, “Gigi”.
Margo was active in the community and the church, in the field of literacy as a member of PEO, with Southeast Asia refugees, teaching ESL, serving as a deacon, bell ringer, and in Stephen Ministry. Camp Ghormley continued to be important in Bob and Margo’s lives and they worked with others to maintain and improve it. Several Dennis and Ghormley reunions were held there.
When Bob died in November 2002, Margo entered a new phase in her life. In 2004 she moved to a retirement home in Vancouver WA and later into an adult family home where she received loving care. She lived close to her daughter Linda and other family members. She enjoyed visits from everyone including her many great-grandchildren. Family members came from near and far for many birthday parties including her 100th.
Margo had a zest for life and was a life-long learner, reading books and articles on an endless supply of subjects. The daily crossword puzzle was a “must.” She loved nature and hiked in the Cascade Mountains and the hills of the Yakima Valley from her childhood years to her mid-80s, exclaiming excitedly over every bird, wild animal and wildflower.
Her family was the center of her life and her grandchildren and great-grandchildren were one of her greatest joys. She was famous for her “monthly letter,” full of news of family events and praise for accomplishments of the grandkids.
Margo is survived by her sister Helen Wood, daughters Carolyn Brooks (Walt), Linda Ayala (Ray), Nancy Patrick (Joe), Adele Boyles (Tom), and Galen Fisher, and son Craig Dennis (Becky), and numerous nieces, nephews, cousins and friends.
She was preceded in death by her parents, her husbands Wendell Freece and Robert Dennis, her step-son Roger Dennis, son-in-law Tim Fisher, grandson Brandon Boyles, and great-grandson Nicholas Stateler.
The family would like to give special thanks to Margo’s caregivers, Vickie and George Cazac, for their loving care for the last eight years.
Because of the Corona Virus, a graveside gathering will be held at a later time.
Memorial gifts can be made in Margo’s name to Camp Ghormley, (www.campghormley.com), please click on the link provided below on this site or by check to Camp Ghormley, 640 Lost Lake Road, Naches, WA 98937.
- Camp Ghormley