Margaret Herguth was a mother, journalist and longtime resident of Wilmette whose life, in many ways, revolved around the written word.
As a grandmother, she authored “How Do You Hug a Giraffe?” a children’s book that she wrote and her daughter, Jeni, illustrated.
Years earlier, she met her husband when they both worked at the Chicago Daily News.
“Bob Eulenberg, a rewrite guy, thought we would be ideal for each other,” recalled her husband, Robert J. Herguth. “So he invited us both to lunch and we kind of both wondered why we were there, and after that, things kind of clicked.”
They raised two daughters and a son in Wilmette, where Mrs. Herguth opened her home to all sorts people who needed a hand in life.
“She helped so many people, whether it was a family going through divorce or someone transitioning in life who was down on their luck,” said her son, Robert C. Herguth.
Mrs. Herguth was born in Michigan and grew up in Maryland and New York before her father, an engineer and officer in the Naval Reserve, settled in Winnetka. She graduated from New Trier High School and Mount Mary University in Milwaukee.
She lived in Wilmette for more than 40 years, until she moved to a retirement home in Glenview last year.
She died Friday in a nursing home in Morton Grove after being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s last year. She was 79.
As a child, she loved to sail small boats with her father, and as an adult she was a leader in a sailing program for kids.
“She kept writing while raising her family,” her son said. “She wrote a lot of short stories, kids stories that she would try to get published or just read to her grandkids. She also wrote a history of North Dakota, sort of a nod to her family roots in the area.”
More than 28,000 copies of the book, part of an educational series for kids, ended up in libraries and classrooms around the country, her husband said.
Mrs. Herguth was very active at St. Francis Xavier Parish. “She said she was the first female usher, which she was quite proud of, and she always knew who was sick, whose parents died, who was getting married,” her son said.
“She was a true character who really tried to embody the Christian lifestyle,” he said.
She also took great pride in her nine grandchildren, with whom she would often share life stories.
“She would tell a story about how her mom rode two horses at the same time with one leg over each because she wanted to join the circus,” said Annika DeMarte, Mrs. Herguth’s 13-year-old granddaughter. “But then there was a fork in the road and they each went different ways and she fell off them both.”
“She really loved rainy days when she would put on tea and we would sit around for hours playing card games. She always let us win, but when I got older, and we would really play, she always won. We’d play Spoons and a game called Garbage,” Annika said. She was inside such a sweet and loving person to everyone.”
Mrs. Herguth also is survived by her daughter, Amy.
A wake will be held from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. Monday in Skokie at Donellan Funeral Home, 10045 Skokie Blvd.
A funeral mass will be held at noon Tuesday at St. Francis Xavier Church in Wilmette.