Margaret (Peggy) Phalen, 77, a devout Catholic, passed away on October 15 after a short battle with cancer with her daughter Chris by her side. Born Margaret Rose Berktold on October 6, 1944 in Lake City, MN, she grew up on a farm with her eight siblings, attending a one-room country schoolhouse followed by St. Felix School in Wabasha, MN.
At 19 years old she married Eddie Findley and lived in St. Paul, MN, where she had two daughters. Later as a single mom, she attended the University of Minnesota, graduating with a major in Latin and Greek. Her love of the classics gave her solid academic grounding, an expansive view of history, and an international world view. She repeatedly traveled to Europe, and especially Ireland, her mother’s ancestral home.
Peggy’s continuing studies equipped her for a career as a Special Education teacher, which she did in Chanhassen, MN, and then in Chinook, MT. Her intellectual ability made her especially effective in helping challenged students achieve success at school. She married Ambrose Phalen in 1984 and began another phase of life as a rancher near White Sulphur Springs, MT. Manager of the ranch, her keen business sense held things together financially during times of economic recession. Her vivid memory often brought forth entertaining stories from her past.
Peggy lived a life embracing the Catholic faith and attended mass whenever she could. She was a strong supporter of the Helena Cathedral as well as St. Bartholomew’s in White Sulphur. In her spare time, she sewed thousands of cheerful covid preventing masks for fundraising, supporting the children of the local CR Anderson’s special needs class. In her later years, she was able to spend a good part of her time with her granddaughter, Shiloh.
She is survived by her children, Julie (Dave) and Chris (Pete), her grandchildren, Charity, Jacob, Gunnar and Shiloh, her adopted grandchildren Megan and John, her great grandsons, Kodi and Danick, her 8 siblings as well as numerous nieces and nephews. She was preceded in death by her granddaughter, AmberRose, her husband, Ambrose Phalen, and her parents, Englebert and Margaret Berktold.
Memorial donations in memory of Phalen can be made to the CR Anderson Middle School, specifically the FLS Classroom at 1200 Knight Street, Helena, Mt, 59601.