Margaret Rorke had an original way of looking at the world and a way with words. She wrote:
A giant checkmark, southward bound,
Has crossed the sunset sky;
A feathered fork with honking sound Has solemnly passed by,
As though a teacher, left of hand,
Had caught some grave mistake— Not born of earth, you understand,
But such as clouds can make.
The question we cannot detect,
The answer we can’t scoff.
It may be just that Someone checked Another summer off.
Margaret Curry Rorke was Saginaw’s favorite poet. For twenty-two years, her poems appeared on the editorial page of the Saginaw News. But even some of her most enthusiastic fans didn’t realize that she had a whole other career.
Margaret Curry was born in Saginaw in 1915. Her father, Robert Curry was a prominent lawyer. Margaret was educated in the Saginaw schools and was president of her senior class at Saginaw High, the first woman elected to that post. In 1938, she graduated from the University of Michigan where she was president of her Alpha Chi Omega sorority and a member of the honorary societies Alpha Lambda Delta, Wyvern and Mortarboard. The next year, she was assistant social director of women at the university and in 1942, she graduated from its lawschool.
Returning to Saginaw she joined her father in the law firm of Curry and Curry and was the first woman to be admitted to the Saginaw County Bar. She was a member of the Saginaw County Lawyers Auxiliary, and the Saginaw Bar and Michigan Bar Associations. In 1959, she was admitted to practice before the United States Supreme Court on the motion of Wilbur Brucker, then Secretary of the Army under Dwight Eisenhower.
In 1946, she was married to William Craig Rorke who had recently returned from service as a deck officer on a supply ship in the South Pacific. He headed Saginaw’s Credit Bureau. They had two children, Margaret Ann (Peggy) who grew up to become professor of music at the University of Utah, and Robert, a developer in Ann Arbor.
Margaret started writing poems when she temporarily retired from the law practice to raise her children. Many of her early poems took a humorous look at the joys and foibles of being a wife and mother.
Margaret returned to her law practice, explaining, “Once my children grew up, I lost my material.” She managed to combine it with poetry, publishing “only” four days a week rather than every day. Her later poems became more philosophical, reflecting her love of nature and her strong faith. She was a lifelong member of Saginaw’s First Congregational Church.
1975 was the beginning of sixteen years of writing some 400 poems that were published in the columns of Detroit Free Press writer Judd Arnett. In 1980, Arnett wrote the foreward to her book, An Old Cracked Cup and said, “When Margaret Rorke writes a poem, the reader does not have to walk around for an hour or two with hand clasped to his forehead, asking ‘What is she trying to say? What does she mean by that?’ She is not devious, she does not travel by circuitous route, she leaves no stray pennants flapping in an uncertain breeze. Instead, she sets the theme, develops it with charm and grace and you follow her to a substantial conclusion, sorry it ended so soon.” Margaret’s other books were My Ego Trip, published in 1976, Christmas Could-Be Tales (and Other Verses) published in 1984 and A Church Sampler, poems dealing with her church and religious events. It came out in 1992. The profits from her books were contributed to the religious, charitable and cultural interests of Saginaw. Her poems also appeared in Better Homes and Gardens, the PEO Record, Guideposts, and Reader’s Digest. She was featured as Ideals Magazine’s Best Loved Poet.
She belonged to the PEO Sisterhood, the Saginaw Culture Club, Women’s National Farm and Garden Association and served two terms as president of Zonta International.
In 1985, she was awarded an honorary doctor of letters from SVSU and in 1987, she won the John J. Hensel Award from the Michigan Bar Association as “an attorney who has made an outstanding contribution to the arts or literature.” In 2000, she received the Edward McArdle Award for Exceptional Service to the Legal Profession and Significant Community Contributions.
She died in 2000.
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