By Mandy Haggerson
Margaret Kaserman was born a 5th generation Norfolk Virginian. “One of my daughters delved into our ancestry and discovered our genealogy could be even more extensive than that,” Margaret smiles. It was in Norfolk that Margaret narrowly missed meeting her future husband, Don. Their respective high schools were rivals in the town.
Margaret headed to Old Dominion University to study English for college. The sprightly freshman had chosen to take two classes in the engineering building at the behest of a fellow classmate. “I was told that a wonderful professor in my major taught in that building. Don and I both picked a seat near the front. We were both very tall. It was nice to be able to sit in the front row and not obstruct anyone’s view because of the way the seats were situated. He was always taking his time picking up his books and I was waiting for him to move. One day he asked me what my name was,” Margaret reminisces. “I told him and then he proceeded to ask me out on a date. I didn’t know him and none of my friends knew him, so I declined. He responded by saying, ‘Well that’s why you need to go out on a date with me so that you can get to know me.’” Eventually, Don’s persistence afforded him the opportunity to take Margaret on a date. They ended up seeing each other off and on for the next couple of years. Don was several years ahead of Margaret and went to work in Baltimore, Maryland, after he graduated. Next month, they will be celebrating the 50th anniversary of their first date.
Upon completing her undergraduate degree, Margaret attended graduate school at Old Dominion. She also began teaching General Education Development (GED) classes. She then joined Don in Baltimore where they resided for 14 years. All 3 of their children: Don, Bonnie, and Becky were born while living in the surrounding area. Margaret enjoyed immersing her family in the history of the city. “One day, my friend and I took our daughters into Baltimore for a May Day event to get a Brown-eyed Susan, the state flower. Simultaneously, a presidential event was taking place. One of the candidate’s handlers saw our 2 girls and recommended he go over to us and say hello. Then candidate, George H.W. Bush visited with my daughter’s friend. My daughter, Bonnie, hid behind my legs and did not want to say hello. Little did we know at that time he would go on to be vice president and president for our country,” laughs Margaret.
Expecting their 3rd child, Margaret and Don got news that he was being transferred down to North Carolina. Margaret and Don traveled to Clemmons to search for their family’s next home. “I told Don we had to find a house during this trip or else he would be coming back by himself because I was so pregnant. Luckily, we found a house on our trip. Several of Don’s colleagues had also been transferred to North Carolina. They recommended the Clemmons West community to us, so that’s where we looked,” recalls Margaret.
Right before their move to Clemmons, Don had to go down to North Carolina for work. “He was nervous to go down there because I was past my due date, but it had to get done,” Margaret remembers. Late into the evening on one of the nights that Don was gone, Margaret began feeling uncomfortable and called her husband. Realizing that the baby was coming, at 1:30 a.m. Margaret woke up her 2 young children, Don and Bonnie, and told them that they needed to call a family friend to let them know she needed help because the baby was coming. “I could hear my kids on the phone say, ‘Mommy is having a baby.’ My friend retorted that she knew I was having a baby. So I had to clarify from the other room, Mommy was having a baby now,” exclaimed Margaret. Margaret’s friend got the message loud and clear and came over with her husband who was a doctor. “Ironically, my friend’s husband had just been in Reader’s Digest that month for something significant. And here he was helping me deliver my baby in the early hours of the morning even though it wasn’t something he did regularly in his field,” says an appreciative Margaret. Margaret was grateful her friends came over because not long after, a very healthy Bonnie was delivered in the Kaserman’s home.
Five weeks after their youngest child’s birth, the Kaserman’s began their Clemmons adventure. Margaret taught GED classes at Forsyth Technical Community College once a week. It wasn’t long before she was recruited to teach more classes. “I didn’t really interview for the position, but my part-time job ended up going to 5 days a week,” mentions Margaret.
While at Forsyth Tech, Margaret also taught short story writing and math. Margaret enjoyed teaching many of her students who soaked up her positive attitudes for 24 years. One of those memorable students wrote Margaret a profound thank you note. He had appreciated her style of teaching and encouragement so much that he likened it to that of Ludwig van Beethoven’s final complete symphony, Symphony No. 9 in D minor. “I came into this class not knowing what to expect. I’m sure that Beethoven felt the same way creating his final piece while being deaf. Can you imagine if he hadn’t? Every time I came into your class, I could hear Symphony No. 9,” Margaret recalls as she feels gratitude thinking of the former students kind words. Margaret was known for helping her students who had learning disabilities find their ability to believe in themselves and showcase their capabilities. She had great success using the Irlen Method, which helps those with learning difficulties to correct the brains inability to process visual information.
In Margaret’s free time these days, she can be found gardening. She also loves sewing clothes for her 8-year-old granddaughter. She also makes her granddaughter’s dolls clothes. “It’s a labor of love, that’s for certain,” laughs Margaret. “It does take some time. I started sewing when I was pregnant. Being so tall, it was tough to find maternity clothes that were long enough and comfortable. Then I made clothes for my kids. My son was very tall, too, so I even made him a 3 piece suit when he was younger.” He grew up to be ‘6’8’ tall.
Our neighbor has shown her family and community how to find a positive solution to bumpier turns in life. As Colin Powell once noted, “Perpetual optimism is a force multiplier.”