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Margaret Mutti (nee Mutchler)

Feb. 20, 2017
Category: Obituary

Margaret Charlotte Mutti, with family by her side, passed gracefully from this life on Saturday, February 11. She was one month away from celebrating her 96th birthday.

Margaret was born in Fitchburg, a suburb of Madison, Wisconsin to dairy farmers, Wilson and Dora (Batker) Mutchler. Margaret was a lifelong learner: From a one-room schoolhouse, to the University of Wisconsin where during a weekend picnic she met her future husband Richard, Margaret continued her quest for knowledge. While raising their 5 children, she braved the U.C. Berkeley campus of the late 60’s for graduate work toward her Marriage, Family and Child Counselor licensure, a career choice she maintained for 40 years.

Ever the high achiever, Margaret obtained a special driver’s license at the age of 14 so she could attend West High in Madison before graduating Salutatorian of her class. She went on to the University of Wisconsin where she earned B.A. and M.A. degrees and affiliated with Alpha Xi Delta, Mortar Board, and Phi Beta. During WWII, she was hired as a counselor at Western Electric in Chicago and spearheaded early efforts at production improvement through in-house counseling.

After corresponding throughout the war, Margaret and Richard were married in 1946 and returned to his San Francisco Bay Area roots to start married life. Never one to sit still, she taught High School English, began her family, founded one of the first neighborhood baby-sitting co-ops, and organized religious education programs. In 1963 she packed up the family to accompany her husband during a 14-month overseas assignment in Paris, France. After their return to Lafayette, she completed her graduate work at U.C. Berkeley and became the Director of Guidance for the Diocese of Oakland. Her work and interests led to a publication on the neurologically handicapped young adult that culminated in the 1969 co-authored book, the Quick Neurological Screening Test (QNST), which is still in print today. In 1972 she became Director of Lafayette Family Counseling Services where she served until she moved her practice into her home at the age of 90.

If there was a board, committee, or professional affiliation–from child services, to vocational help, to crisis and suicide prevention–Margaret was part of it. When the family moved to Lafayette in 1959, she eagerly joined ministries and committees at St. Perpetua Catholic Church where she practiced her faith and volunteered for over 50 years. From 1981-1991 she was the founder and consultant for the Center for Adaptive Leaning, a residential transition facility for learning and disabled young adults in Concord, California.

Upon her husband’s retirement in 1981, they took more time to travel throughout the world on cruises and Elderhostel tours, and for 25 years they combined culture and camping with annual trips to Oregon’s Ashland Shakespeare Festival. In her free time in Lafayette, she loved walking at the Lafayette Reservoir, a habit she continued even when she needed to use a walker. She practiced water aerobics daily into her 90’s and was an avid crossword puzzler, adept at topics from Greek gods, to politics, to the latest Internet jargon. Born just 7 months after American women were granted the right to vote, she proudly cast her vote for the nation’s first female presidential nominee 95 years later.

Margaret was the quintessential listener and peacemaker both personally and professionally. She lived a full and rewarding life, was married for 65 years, and remained close to her children throughout their adult lives. She will be very deeply missed.

She is survived by her children, Robert (Mihr), Barbara (John), Donald, and Caryl (Joe); daughter-in-law Linda and granddaughter Alexa; sister Shirley Pugh Fox (Joe); her extended California family and many Wisconsin cousins. She is pre-deceased by her husband Richard and their son, David.
There will be a Mass of Christian Burial at St. Perpetua Catholic Church, 3454 Hamlin Rd., Lafayette, CA at 11 a.m. on Saturday, March 11 followed by a reception at the church hall. A private burial will be held at Lafayette Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, gifts may be made to: St. Perpetua Catholic Church and Lafayette Rec Area/Lafayette Reservoir, c/o EBMUD, MS 101375 11th Street, Oakland, CA 94607

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