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In Remembrance of Margaret Emma Lemieux

23 September, 1931 ~
Czech Republic



Margaret (née Wettengel) was variously known to her friends and family as Gretel, Marge, Mom, or Oma. We loved her and welcome you to share memories about her. For date and... Read more >
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Message from Doris Lemieux (daughter)

" Margaret Lemieux, age 90, passed away on November 27, 2021 at home in her sleep with her children by her side.

Margarete Emma Wettengel was born on September 23, 1931 in the mountain border town of Weipert (now called Vejprty), in then Czechoslovakia to Dr. Alfred and Theresia Wettengel (nee Malz). The family called her Gretel. In 1934, they moved to Asch (now As) where her father practiced law. Younger brother Karl Heinz and younger sister Karin (Schmelcher) were born there. Younger siblings Helga and Gerd both died in infancy.

Asch was relatively unscathed in World War 2, though they could not escape food scarcity, deaths, and family separation. The family of a Jewish colleague of her father, including Margaret's playmate, Susanne Bertha Benkendorf, fell victim to the Holocaust. Happier times were visiting her Malz grandparents in Oberhals in the hills above Weipert, and playing with favorite cousin Emmi Malz (Jezek). In 1945, the family was deported, as were most Sudeten Germans. Fortunately, the main road led west into West Germany, and not into the Russian-occupied East. The family found refuge in tiny Zaberfeld, in southwestern Germany. Margaret had completed middle school and hoped to be a doctor like her hero Albert Schweitzer. But at 14, instead of attending school, she had to work at a country inn to earn her board and keep. In 1949, the family moved to Heilbronn. In 1950, Margaret completed an apprenticeship as a dressmaker. In 1952, brother Karl Heinz begged their parents to invite an American soldier to Sunday dinners so he could practice his English. Margaret made a point of not being home at those times. But one day she came home too early, met Leo Lemieux, and saw he was not a typical loud American GI. They fell in love and got married.

In 1954, Leo and Margaret lived with his family in Clayville, New York, until they were able to buy a house in Chadwicks, New York. "Marge" was warmly embraced by the extended Lemieux family. She was a housewife of that era and had three children: Doris, Walter, and Dean. Every summer, she raised vegetables in her garden, and every Christmas, she made a fabulous variety of Christmas cookies to give away. When the children were older, she became a Licensed Vocational Nurse, fulfilling at least part of her dream to work in the medical field.

In 1973, Leo found a job in Orange County, California. Marge, Walter, and Dean joined him in Fountain Valley. For many years, she worked in Radiation Therapy at WestMed Hospital in Tustin, and later at the FHP (now Optum) clinic in Huntington Beach. For fun, Marge sang with a German choir at the Phoenix Club in Anaheim. When grandchildren came along, Marge helped their working mother. When Joe did not want to go on trips with his mother and brothers, he stayed at "Camp Oma," where he helped her with cooking and gardening. For holidays, Oma (German for "Grandma") was the anchor, whether it was a hunt for Easter eggs, the Thanksgiving meal, or her famous Christmas cookies. Marge and Leo liked taking trips in their station wagon to Joshua Tree National Monument, Death Valley, Grand Canyon, and up and down the coast of California. They loved their 50th wedding anniversary trip to the Big Island of Hawaii, courtesy of 3 grateful children. After Leo died in 2018, Walter continued to live in the home to support Margaret’s wish for as much independence as possible.

Margaret is survived by her children Doris, Walter, and Dean Lemieux; her grandchildren Sam, Jake, and Joe Potts; her sister Karin Schmelcher; sisters-in-law and brother-in-law; and many nieces and nephews on the East Coast, in Germany, and in the Czech Republic.

Both Margaret and Leo donated their bodies to the University of California, Irvine School of Medicine Willed Body Program, and their names will be etched on memorial bricks.
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