After a long life of service to others, Margaret Petrek, passed away November 19, 2023, at 97 with her daughter by her side.
She was born Margaret Frances Sefcik August 1, 1926, in Caldwell, Texas, to farmers Frank and Frances Sefcik. The middle daughter of three sisters, Margaret grew up in the Great Depression, wearing dresses made from flour sacks and putting newspaper in her shoes when the soles wore out. Her family traded eggs and homemade canned food with neighboring families for other goods. When Margaret’s father died, her mother married Frank Mikeska, and the family was expanded and enriched with stepsiblings and their spouses and children.
Margaret graduated from Caldwell High School in 1943 and Scott & White Hospital School of Nursing in 1947. She trained at the historic Brackenridge Hospital in Austin, then worked at Scott & White Memorial Hospital in Temple. She met William E. “Sam” Petrek while living at the same boarding house in Temple. They married January 26, 1962 and built a good life for themselves.
She worked for Temple ISD as a school nurse, the Bell County Health Department, and Girling Home Health, concluding her fulltime career at the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor in Belton, where she headed the health center and trained student nurses. With a strong work ethic — and no wish to retire — she worked part-time at an eye clinic into her 80s.
Margaret and her husband, Sam, were very different — he, a homebody, preferring to read and putter around their farm, she, enjoying going to Broadway musicals and the symphony. But they shared the same dedication to family. Sam used to say Margaret had the “travel bug.” She explored the U.S. with friends and family, and with her daughter, Melissa, journeyed from one end of Canada to the other and across Europe.
After Sam’s passing in 2006, Margaret’s life was quieter, but she enjoyed visiting Melissa in Austin, particularly looking forward to their breakfasts together at Nau’s Enfield Drug.
Margaret was a member of Temple Brethren Church and attended regularly as long as her health permitted. She loved oil painting, jigsaw puzzles, Ben & Jerry’s “Cherry Garcia”, and roses.
Level-headed and calm, Margaret was the caretaker of the family. Having tended to many family members in their final days, as well as having had a long career in nursing, it was difficult for her to let others care for her.
She now reunites with her husband, Sam, parents, sisters Jane Ellisor and Elizabeth Motl and other family members, and long-time friends and neighbors.
Left to carry on her legacy are her daughter, Melissa Myer; nieces Pam Pekar, Paula Howeth, Jan Couch, Peri Edwards, and Michelle Perkus; nephews Ron Ellisor and Wesley Padgett; and the many nurses she mentored.
The family wishes to thank the staff at Garden Estates Assisted Living and Enhabit Hospice, and her caretakers, Dolores and Karen. The family expresses deep gratitude to Margaret’s nurse, Viktoria Maturkanic, for her loving kindness and the special bond they shared.
A celebration of Margaret’s Life will be held Friday, November 24 at 1 PM at Harper-Talasek Funeral Home in Temple, Texas, with visitation 12 – 1 PM. Reception to follow at Cross Church on Bird Creek.
Memorial contributions may be made to the William and Margaret Petrek Endowed Book Fund at The University of Texas at Austin, which provides resources to students entering nursing and the health care fields: https://give.utexas.edu/?menu=OGPPETREK or Texas Development, P.O. Box 7458, Austin, TX, 78713.