Margaret (Ens) Buckner
February 20, 1935 - December 28, 2021
Margaret Buckner died peacefully at Royal University Hospital in Saskatoon on December 28. Born in Neuhorst, Saskatchewan, hers was a life of quiet, faithful service: to her community, her church, and especially to her beloved family. Her education began in Neuhorst and when her parents – Helena and Aaron Ens – moved Margaret and her siblings to Saskatoon, she attended Nutana Collegiate where she graduated in the early 1950's.
Baptized in the Mennonite Church as a young woman, Margaret’s faith was core to who she was and how she lived. She graduated from Canadian Mennonite Bible College - CMBC (now Canadian Mennonite University) in Winnipeg, Manitoba – years she treasured and reflected on frequently with great joy. After CMBC she attended what was then Saskatoon Teachers College in preparation for a career in education.
Margaret’s experience at CMBC and the strength of her faith called her to join Mennonite Voluntary Service in the late 1950s and from 1959 to 1961 she served in a variety of roles at the recently formed Woodlawn Mennonite Church on the South Side of Chicago. She often talked about how her Chicago years shaped her; how it gave, in her words, “a Mennonite girl from Saskatchewan” a view of the world - especially racial injustice even violence – otherwise unimaginable had she not experienced it first-hand.
Margaret returned to Saskatchewan after Voluntary Service and began a teaching career that would see her serve in Saskatoon and the surrounding area. During this time, she met Marland Buckner Sr. whom she married and shortly thereafter moved to Los Angeles where their son, Marland Jr. was born. Despite her best efforts, the marriage could not be sustained, and Margaret returned to Saskatoon with her son in 1968. She spoke little of those few very painful years but when she did, she would consistently offer that it was her faith that saw her through.
For Margaret, there was no greater joy than being Marland’s mother. Her pride in him was boundless to the end. But being the single mother of an African American boy in Saskatoon during the 1970s and 80s was far from easy. Margaret’s quiet determination and grace in facing those challenges was matched only by the unfailing support of her parents, siblings, and her Church family at Nutana Park Mennonite, all of whom she would love unconditionally and do her best to serve for the rest of her life.
Margaret worked in various capacities at the University of Saskatchewan from 1974 until her retirement in the late 1990s. Retirement brought her the opportunity to travel and she did so with gusto taking (very economical!) cruises to far flung places about which she had only previously read in the hundreds of volumes she devoured in her later years. Margaret was also a lifelong student – earning a B.A. in Religious Studies from the University of Saskatchewan in the 1990s while working full time. She continued taking classes with friends at the U of S as long as her health permitted. She loved art, music, and the theater, and especially mentoring children of all ages who enjoyed her warm heart, open mind, and sharp wit.
Having been enthusiastically welcomed into the Barnes family upon Marland’s marriage to Melody Barnes, Margaret (now referred to simply by the Low-German honorific “Mutta,” which she loved) delighted in attending the annual Barnes-Buckner family vacation on Hilton Head Island, South Carolina where she took long beach walks and completed puzzles with family and was lovingly embraced by Melody and Marland’s friends. She also enjoyed visiting Melody and Marland in Washington D.C. and later Richmond, Virginia.
Margaret continued to serve her faith community as best she could into her final years including helping to organize residents of her floor for various activities at Bethany Manor where she was so grateful to live until her health made that impossible.
Margaret was predeceased by her mother Helena, her father Aaron, brothers Carl (and wife Genevieve), Bill (and wife Mabel), Henry (and wife Barbara), Danny; and her sisters, Helen and Martha. She is mourned by her brother Jake and his wife Barbara, sister-in-law Karen, her many nieces and nephews, and her beloved children, daughter (in-law) Melody, and son Marland.
Flowers are gratefully declined. Memorial donations can be made, in Margaret’s name, to Nutana Park Mennonite Church through their web site, http://www.npmc.net/ways-to-give.html.
A memorial service will be held at a time when it is safe for friends and family to gather.
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