COMMUNITY LIGHTNING RODS-Voices that spark Conversations-Marge Morgenstern

Interview by Gail Marvel

MONTROSE-Marge Morgenstern grew up in the middle of Kansas, attended the University of Kansas and for two years worked for AT&T. She moved to Denver to be near friends and while working at the Denver Public Library she went back to school at Denver University. She said, “Teachers were in demand at the time, so I got a double major in history and English.” Marge began teaching secondary education in 1963 and taught four years in Cascade, MT and six years in Craig, CO before coming to Montrose High School (MHS) in 1970.

Although Marge taught at MHS, she lived in the Ridgway/Ouray area and for several years she seasonally commuted back and forth to work on a motorcycle. She said, “Gas was cheap at the time. I had a 5 ½ gallon tank and I could commute an entire week on one tank of gas.” After moving to Montrose in 1993 she retired from teaching in 1995 and went to work for Cornman’s Hallmark for over three years. Marge said, “Retail was a real kick. Almost everyone who came in the store was friendly and positive. It was a real good gig! Cornman’s did a spectacular job. They knew how to run a store and I learned a lot about retail.”

For almost 10 years Marge served on the Montrose City Parks Advisory Board, “We met once a month and I really enjoyed the people on the board.” Under the current city administration the parks board has been disbanded. She said, “They [city] said the group was unnecessary.” Marge has been very public in her angst against city management, but she doesn’t see herself running for a city council seat. She said, “It would take a lot of energy to run for election. Right now I’m going to work like crazy to get others elected. We need good people on city council.”

Marge views herself as a concerned citizen and her main platform is writing letters to the editor and long missives, “I’m an advocate for wanting the city to be ethical, open and accountable.” When Marge takes to public discourse she is a force to be reckoned with, “I don’t mince a lot of words. A lot of people don’t want to hear someone who is forthright and blunt.”

Although she is not one to look for a cause Marge said, “I think everybody needs to do whatever they think is right — I get involved when there is a cause. The surface of my issue with the city is how their actions are directly affecting the employees. I’m concerned for the locals.”

When asked if she had a good reputation in the community Marge said, “As far as I know. I have opinions and I express them. Some people may think I am over-opinionated; without room for change. I may say much more than they want to hear and sometimes there is no gray area…but I’m open and honest.”

There are times when Marge’s honesty gets her into trouble, “That could be a negative in my personality and character —I’m too opinionated!” After 22 years of teaching Marge feels gratified that her reputation has been handed down from one generation to another. She said, “I’ve taught sisters and brothers and their parents. I may not be as well known in service clubs and organizations, but I’m known in the community.”

Marge has tapped into the strength of being a volunteer, “No one can hurt me; they can’t cut my salary or my time. I’m not afraid and no one has power over me.”