https://clarkeva.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/AA15.jpg 2989 2776 Jennifer https://clarkeva.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/Clarke-Nameplate3-1024x320.jpg Jennifer2017-11-16 10:11:442018-01-09 16:11:23Margaret Barthel, Berryville Treasure
By Edith Welliver
Berryville is lucky to have held a little population of delightful people over the years, drawn in from the surrounding county. One particular such asset is Margaret Barthel, the attractive little lady in neatly pressed slacks with numerous sidewalk conversations along the way. She is someone everyone wants to talk to.
Margaret was born in Gaylord, up by the West Virginia line. She remembers the town’s post office and granary and railroad tracks. In fact, as a child she had the rare privilege of hanging up the mail bag for a postal agent to grab from its hook as the train rolled past. However, she entered school in Berryville while Gaylord’s small elementary school was temporarily out of service. She started at the Academy Street brick school house, of which reused bricks still survive in homes on the site. She stayed through graduation from Berryville High, before it became Clarke County High School.
In high school Margaret had a teacher for commercial subjects who formed a little orchestra and introduced her to the violin, which became a particular joy, although she wasn’t able because of gas rationing to continue out-of-town lessons. The friendship grew even after Miss Mary Roberts Pugh, nicknamed Robbie, moved away, married, was eventually widowed, suffered gracefully and independently through macular degeneration until she finally had to move to an assisted living community. Their intermittent correspondence, regular every Christmas, found Margaret as the information source about Berryville people whom Mary remembered and inquired about over the years until her death last February at ninety-nine.
The commercial courses paid off when Margaret graduated and looked for a job. For a while she joined her elder sister Clara at the telephone company, but in an odd way the local draft board redirected her. It summoned repeatedly a young man employed at the Bank of Clarke County without inducting him. When he finally was actually called into service, the bank drafted Margaret as his replacement in the
From there she learned other new duties and became a teller for years, popular with the many many customers she tactfully served. She has a smile as she recalls the procedures with pen and ink and adding machines that have disappeared today. It was policy, for instance, not to correct customers’ errors while they were present with others waiting. The corrections were indeed made, but quietly when no one else would witness the mistake.
In 1963 Margaret and Clara moved from Fairfield into the house on Chalmers Court, where Margaret lives today amid the family heirlooms. She was the driver for the household, so people regularly saw the two sisters together. Margaret sadly lost Clara in 2016, but she still drives a veritable taxi service for a number of friends. When she is not behind the wheel, she loves to “dig in the dirt”, she says, growing vegetables and flowers and living close to nature as the
Wars came and went. Margaret worked for the Red Cross as a volunteer, and, though she says she isn’t a “joiner”, she was—and is—active tirelessly in the church. As a very little girl she was an Episcopalian, but by the time she entered school, her family changed to Berryville Presbyterian Church, following a men’s Sunday school teacher whom her father particularly admired.
She went from the children’s Sunday school classes and community-wide summer Bible school sessions, in which a number of churches participated, to youth activities and then, with her mother and sister, to Presbyterian Women. She has especially appreciated her contacts through the women’s group with others across the district, the Presbytery. For a period she served as chairwoman for an area that included parts of West Virginia as well as the upper Shenandoah Valley.
On Sunday, November 5, Berryville Presbyterian Church awarded Margaret a well-deserved Honorary Life Membership status in Presbyterian Women, with a certificate and pin to recognize her years of devoted service. She is as much involved as time permits, rehearsing and singing with the choir, contributing to Bible study circle discussions, and managing the little local treasury for an international Least Coin missions project. When a member recently introduced the congregation to a program that creates sleeping mats made from plastic shopping bags, Margaret joined the weekly work days of
She keeps the Berryville congregation aware of district, national, and international activities by reporting from her reading of the Presbyterian Women’s Horizons publication and the wider church’s Presbyterians Today. She is an avid reader.
If you are one of the few people in Clarke County who haven’t yet met Margaret Barthel, don’t miss the opportunity. She is modestly, gently a “people person”, easy to talk to, a fountain of knowledge, and a pleasure to know.