“I love the work of the 40 Mile Loop.”
Margaret Branson is a native Oregonian and a retired labor union activist. If you meet Margaret today, there’s something about her, you’ll tell right away that she’s a woman with backbone. It all started many years ago when she worked for Western Union. She saw an opportunity to provide better leadership for the workers, threw her name in the hat, and won the election. She ended up representing about 200 employees in the United Telegraph Workers, Local 92 for ten years and it lead her to a deep respect for the working class. It was a tough job and it spurred her on to advance her education (from Portland State College, now Portland State University) and to travel.
Retired, Margaret is as passionate about helping others as she ever has been and enjoys being active in progressive political campaigns and issues. She has both history and ongoing involvement in her community as demonstrated by some of her many roles on local boards. Some of her roles include past board member for the Sellwood Moreland Improvement League (SMILE), past board member for the Oregon Symphony Women’s Association, past treasurer for the Democratic Party of Oregon, and current board member for The Old Church Society (for which she was also the past Chair).
Margaret says her most satisfying project was helping to create a pocket park from an abandoned railroad junction on the corner of SE 13th Avenue & Ochoco Street in Portland. With the help of neighbors and SMILE, they transformed the former industrial wasteland into Golf Junction Park, a neighborhood historical treasure bordering the “Sellwood Gap” in the 40-Mile Loop.
These days Margaret delights in splitting her time between her home in Government Camp and her home away from home in Portland. Her Portland spot happens to be a mere 200 feet from the Sellwood Gap. Of course, Margaret doesn’t just wait for the gap to close someday, Margaret serves as our Board treasurer.
When she’s not engaged with activism, Margaret is out getting active. Try keeping up with her on Mt. Hood as she skis or snowshoes. Or you might catch her when she’s leading the PrimeTimers walking group, or see her cruising around on her bicycle. Margaret has a musical soul and loves to play the piano and pipe organ. She taught herself to play piano by ear when she was very young and without formal lessons or ability to read music, she was the school “pianist” at age seven. The pipe organ at Oaks Amusement Park, where she used to roller skate growing up, inspired her to seriously study the classic pipe organ much later in life. It is a passion that leads her all over the world and to historic pipe organ conventions.