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Margo Elaine (Kunkel) Smith

Margo was born Margo Elaine Kunkel to Glenn & Mable Kunkel of Des Moines, Iowa, October 25th, 1947. She attended Lincoln High School in Des Moines. She had an older sister Barb, (“Bobbie”) and her brother Dennis, (“Lee”); they were very close. Her dear brother Dennis, married Maryellen Davis & then they moved to California.

Margo was very kind and spiritual as a young person. She was also very artistic and talented and painted oil paintings, especially pastoral scenes, & made lovely dolls “from scratch.” She took Art class in high school and that is where she met her oldest friend Steven Booth. She worked at various jobs during her life; she loved children so she chose to work in Day Care especially, and also worked as a security guard, for a time. She lost her parents at a relatively young age. She loved animals, especially dogs & cats. And, she loved Disney characters, as we all know.

She fell in love and married Raymond Smith, a very dynamic man of color. Later in life her sister, “Bobbie” lived with Margo, Raymond and his mother. Sadly, about 4 years ago she lost her husband who died suddenly of a stroke, and shortly after that she lost her dear sister from a heart attack. These deaths were a devastating blow to her from which she never totally recovered. It was her Christian faith that enabled her to go on, as she was strong in her belief in God and her Savior Jesus Christ.

She dearly loved her sweet calico kitty named ”Pixie Dust”. She loved stuffed toys & dolls, and always had them around her. She also cherished the oil paintings that her friend Steven painted for her. She had a heart condition and also went into kidney failure so that she had been on kidney dialysis for about the last 5 years. A number of years ago, Margo began to need assistance with her daily needs and “Immanual Pathways Central Iowa” program, stepped in to fill the void. She loved the care givers who came to her apartment and they did their best to help her. She could not have been able to live “at home” in her apartment as long as she did without them. However, she had many ups & downs due to her increasing frailty, and she fell numerous times alone in her apartment. She was very lonely.

The things that made her happy were her visits to “Immanuel Pathways” outpatient facility, where she visited and ate lunch with her friends & staff, attended church services, and received medical care. She was very close to her kind Pastor Michelle Mead, and her precious friends, Pam & Margarite, and others.

She was also in contact with her only close relative, Mary Kunkle in Oregon, who spoke with her via the phone & who came to visit her a number of times here in Des Moines.

She had a friend from high school, Mary Booth, who visited with her on the phone and came to see her frequently and brought her gifts & food that she had so much fun receiving.

Margo loved all her friends as well as the “ Pathways” staff; they added immensely to Margo’s happiness, and in turn her overall Quality of Life.

Margo was confined to a wheel chair and some months ago she had to go into a nursing home because she could not care for herself as she had been or transfer to and from her wheel chair anymore. So, it was determined by her caregivers that she could no longer live independently. And, of course Pixie Dust became “homeless”.

But, thank goodness her good friend, Lonnie Johnson, who came to the rescue and took Pixie and cared for her until dear Pastor Michelle found a permanent home for her. Margo and others of her friends were very relieved and grateful to them both.

Margo was very unhappy in her first nursing home especially, because it was far away from her home, (it was in Marshalltown, Iowa), and because she missed all her friends & her kitty.

Margo was however very thankful that her wonderful pastor, Michelle came to see her in Marshalltown; she was a steadfast Pastor and friend. Finally, after several months she was transferred “back home” to Bishop Drumm Nursing Home in Johnston, Iowa. At first things did not go well, but then she found some friends there, and because of her good care, things began looking up. Finally, she seemed happy & adjusted to her life.

Several weeks ago she developed an infection & had to be hospitalized. Eventually she was released back to the nursing home but she had deteriorated both physically and mentally and had not recovered fully from that.

Then about one week ago, Margo was in an accident on the bus on the way to her dialysis, and she was injured. She was taken to Mercy Hospital. She had to undergo surgery to repair her broken leg, (femur). She did not recover and was very unstable, remaining mostly confused & in some significant pain at times. Pastor Michelle and her friend Mary Ruth as well as her case manager spent time with Margo at the hospital to comfort her. The medication for her pain made her very drowsy but she once indicated to Mary Ruth that she wanted to “go home”, and called out “mama” a number of times. She was obviously severely ill and approaching death.

She was in a very complicated situation medically, and the hospital nurses & physicians could not stabilize her.

So last week, on Friday, March 24th with much thought & concern for Margo’s well being & considering her quality of life living in a nursing home & on dialysis, and her present state of ill health, those involved with her care, including her pastor, her case manager, and her sister-in-law, ( her power of attorney ), decided that the measures to try to keep her alive would be withdrawn, and that she would receive what is called “Comfort Care” which provided her with basic nursing care and relief from pain.

The next day, dear Margo entered into eternal life, joining her family and her Savior in heaven; she passed away peacefully.

She was preceded in death by her mother Mable, her father, Glenn, her sister, Barb, her brother Dennis & her husband Raymond. She had surviving relatives in Oregon, her brother’s widow Maryellen Kunkle, & also her nieces & nephews, (which were her brother’s children, grandchildren & great grandchildren.)

About one year ago, I promised Margo that when she passed away I would plant a tree in her honor in the “Arboretum” at Waterworks Park. I loved Margo & I will never forget her. I will always remember her as an intelligent, talented, generous, kind, gentle, spiritual person, and my friend.

Mary R. Booth. March 27th, 2023.



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