November 18, 1909
A motherly old heart was stilled last night when Margaret Healy died in St. Joseph's hospital. She was a charity patient and left no money with which to bury herself. But in life that thought never troubled her.
"I always have friends," she used to say. "Sure, haven't I always been friendly?"
And she had been. Her friendship for all that was human was shown in her adoption of a parentless family of boys and raising the two youngest from her scanty earnings as charwoman and washwoman. It was shown, too, in her working half the night doing washing and household work for neighbors, when the mothers of families were ill, in the many acts of kindness when the stork visited neighbors or when death crossed their thresholds.
A simple, artless old woman she was, who passed her last days in the companionship of a woman who befriended her and gave her shelter. No one who knew her ever heard her moan at fate. She was as full of laughter at 75 years of age as many women in their teens, with the same keen enjoyment of life and interest in the small things of the town and her neighborhood.
Mrs. Healy was about 78 years old. She came to Kansas City several years after the war. She was twice married. Her second husband, John Healy died a year after their marriage. Never in her life had the income of her family been more than $10 a week, but she saw only rosy prisms. Her first husband was a laborer. So was the second. But there always was a bit of meat and bread for the hungry to be found in the family larder and a bit of heart left for the weak and sometimes the undeserving.
Until the flood of 1903, Mrs. Healy was a "squatter" in a shell of a home near the Loose-Wiles factory at Eighth and Santa Fe streets.
She and Mr. Healy were married in the Church of the Annunciation by Father Dalton. They lived in several places in the West Bottoms. Years after his death, Mrs. Healy became one of the great colony of "squatters," whose huts were scattered on unused ground from the Armour packing plant to the West bluffs. Mrs. Healy was known from one end of the bottoms to the other.
Mrs. Healy's home in the West bottoms was destroyed in the flood of 1903. She was forced to leave and found a home with Mrs. Ellen Hughes, a widow, at 630 Bank street, a mere lane down upon which the rear of huge factory buildings on Broadway frown. She lived with Mrs. Hughes until seven weeks ago, when Mrs. Hughes found her in her room unconscious and ill. She was taken to St. Joseph's hospital.
"Mrs. Healy was very happy here," Mrs. Hughes said last night. "We two lone women became great chums. She was great company. We used to go to 5 o'clock mass Sundays and sometimes we would walk up the hill again to the chapel at St. Joseph for high mass. I went to call her one Sunday and she didn't answer. Her door was locked, but she had left the window open. I crawled in and found her. She had fallen in a wood box.
"All the Irish knew Mrs. Healy; the McGowans, the Burnetts, the Moores, the Walshes, the Pendergasts, all of them. She'll never lack decent burying. From the time she came into my house dripping to the arms with flood water, she never lacked friends and I know she won't lack them now."
In younger days, Mrs. Healy was called "Peggy," a nickname usually given only to Irish girls of vivacious temperament. She looked on her deathbed little like that stout, buxom "Peggy" Healy that the West Bottoms knew at St. Joseph's, but the still, warn face wears the calm of good deeds done. She will rest in Mount St. Mary's cemetery at the side of her adopted son, George Traynor. The funeral arrangements are still to be made.