Margaret Sandner Eyre, 98, died Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2016.
She was born May 9, 1918, at the corner of Lawrence and Mannheim roads on a tomato and onion farm. The farm was owned by Mr. Busse and farmed by her parents, Ed and Elisabeth Sandner, Austrian immigrants who arrived before World War I. They farmed for a half share of the crops.
She was inducted into the National Honor Society at York High School. Upon her graduation in 1936, she attended Gregg Business College. Her first job was working for the Donnelley Publishing Company, and later she became the office manager for Metropolitan Life Insurance Company in Elmhurst.
In 1943 she met her husband, Leonard W. Eyre, a cowboy from Wyoming who was stationed at Navy Pier in Chicago during World War II. She first encountered him at the USO where she liked to dance with the sailors. They were married later that year in Norfolk,Va. At the end of World War II, they moved back to Elmhurst for the birth of their only child in 1946.
The couple ran a successful general contracting business. Both of them became licensed real estate brokers. They were honored with recognition and publicity about the beautiful homes they built in LaGrange, Western Springs, Hinsdale and Burr Ridge.
In 1970, they moved to Woodstock and started a small rental business that has continued for 45 years. In Woodstock, she was a member of the Mother’s Club, membership secretary of the Fine Arts club at the Opera House and a volunteer at the Woodstock Hospital. She and a friend became the first female Elks (not does) at the Elks Club in Woodstock.
In 1988, she became active in her son’s business, Rich’s Foxwillow Pines Nursery. Her specialty was hostas, and she propagated the plants and sold them for Heifer International. She raised at least $500,000 for world hunger, allowing Heifer to buy farm animals for people around the world with the agreement that those farmers would give what they received and pass on the gift to others in their community. Some of those funds were donated to Heifer International Foundation, where the funds remain in perpetuity. She received a Gift Ark Award in 2004 for her Hosta Happening sales and the Heifer Certificate of Service Award in 2010. She was thrilled when Tom Michiletti, former president of the American Hosta Society, hybridized a hosta and named it “Margaret Eyre.” She worked every day at the nursery until she was 93 years old.
On Dec. 21, 2015, with admiration and recognition, Mano a Mano International presented her with a plaque for a school in Sora Sora, Bolivia, dedicated in her honor for her years of work on behalf of the people of Bolivia. The school will be completed by April 2016.
She spent her last years at Valley Hi Nursing and Rehab Center, Woodstock.
Survivors include a son, Richard (Susan) Eyre; and many cousins, nieces, nephews and an army of friends and customers.
Visitation and funeral Mass were held Jan. 16 at St. Mary Catholic Church, Woodstock. Interment was in Calvary Catholic Cemetery, Woodstock.
Memorial contributions can be made to Mano a Mano International or Heifer International Foundation — Bolivia Endowment.
Arrangements were made by Schneider-Leucht-Merwin & Cooney Funeral Home.