Margaret Crystal (born Margaret Russell) liked bringing people together and she was good at it -- even if they had lost contact seven decades earlier, lived four provinces away, and didn’t have email, like her childhood friend Nina Rae.
You may have read their story here in the Empire-Advance last year. The two girls had gone to school together in the 1940s at the old Two Creeks / Ross Consolidated School north of Virden before growing up and going their separate ways.
Fast forward to December, 2017.
That’s when Margaret, now living in White Rock, B.C., saw a memorial for Nina’s mother in the Virden Empire-Advance. With a little help from newspaper staff, Margaret was able to rekindle her old friendship with Nina in Ontario.
Margaret also put out a call for other Two Creeks students.
The first to reach out was Doug Zorn who, coincidentally, lived not far from her on B.C.’s lower mainland.
Then in early 2019 another alumnus, Kent Webster, also in B.C., asked us for Margaret’s contact information. When we told her the news, she was delighted that her Two Creeks posse was growing:
My heart almost stopped when I saw your e-mail this morning and I immediately knew "something" was up!! Can you believe this - another student from Two Creeks!! Know what?? You might have to write another story in your paper!!
The next to seek her out was Joyce Heaman (nee Veldhouse) of Virden who asked us to forward her hand-written missive to both Nina and Margaret, who wrote:
I remember the name of the lady and looking forward to hearing from her. I have kept in touch with Doug Zorn, he has moved to a senior's building and stays active.
That message from Margaret arrived Feb. 5 and was the last time we heard from her. A month later, her daughter Cindy Johansen shared the bad news with us by email:
I'm contacting you with deep sadness to tell you of my mother Margaret Crystal (nee Russell) passing away Saturday, March 16, 2019. It happened terribly fast, and she was admitted to hospital March 13. She had just been driving her stick shift car and picking up groceries the day before! She had influenza A, and developed Guillain Barre Syndrome which progressed so quickly.
The last year has been filled with new joy and connections for her as the alumni of Ross Consolidated have made some contacts with one another…. Mom was so looking forward to coming to Two Creeks for the memorial at the Two Creeks school.
And we at the Empire-Advance were looking forward to meeting this special woman in person, someone we felt we had come to know at least a little through her lively correspondence.
Please see next week’s Virden Empire-Advance for Margaret Crystal’s full obituary.