A PIONEER REMARRIES AND RETIRES
“There were times, four or five years at a time, when I didn’t know what Marge was doing, but we pretty consistently checked in
with each other,” Leutze says. “Marge came to my inauguration at Hampden-Sydney. Marge came to my inauguration here. … She
came down here for Girls Incorporated. As executive director, she came down to visit and stayed … in Kenan House. So in a sense,
there wasn’t a lot of catching up to do,” Leutze says.
She commuted for the first year of their marriage, working in D.C. for several days during the week at the Aspen Institute, and
returning to Wilmington on weekends.
Whenever possible, Leutze would help her get together with her friends.
During one visit to Washington, D.C., they ran into Gates’ former Women in Law teaching partner, Ruth Bader Ginsberg, before
she had been sworn in as The Honorable Associate Supreme Court Justice.
“We were having lunch at a Wisconsin Avenue café when Ginsberg entered,” Leutze says. “Recognizing Marge, she was invited to
join us and accepted.” The couple also traveled to London as part of a Civil Rights contingent and met with British Prime Minister
Shortly after her 65th birthday, Gates drafted a chatty letter to her friends and colleagues.
Included in her well wishes, post 9/11, and extoling matrimony after 30 years of solo womanhood, she posed and answered the
question of how she spent her time in Wilmington:
“So, you must be wondering what I do all day. Well, I do have a job of sorts. The beautiful historic home that Jim is required to live in
has gotten very little fluffing since he came here 11 years ago. I recently had the furniture, rugs, paintings and art objects (some of which
are in the attic) appraised. As a result, I increased both the security systems on the house and the insurance on the contents by a factor of
ten. I know that those of you who last saw me in my sparsely furnished 850-square-foot apartment in Battery Park City will have trouble
imagining me trying to manage 8,500 square feet filled with a flamboyant collection of antiques. Please come and see for yourself.”
She spoke of her painting and converting a room in the apartment over the carriage house into an art studio and enrolling with
daughter Elizabeth in a one-week watercolor workshop in Pawleys Island, South Carolina.
She relished frequent travel. She continues in her letter to explain during a five year span, she and Leutze visited Mexico three
times, Costa Rica, Belize, the British and U.S. Virgin Islands, England twice, France (Paris, Normandy battlefields, barge trip in
Burgundy), Sweden, Finland, Estonia, Japan three times, Korea, Taiwan, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand four times, Singapore and
Ecuador (including the Galapagos).
Her letter concludes with:
“…P.S. I just found this on my computer, apparently unfinished and never sent.”
University of Maryland,
College Park, coed Margie
Gates was Panhellenic
President of Alpha
Omicron Pi, a member of
the Mortar Board, and
magazine editor of “The
Working Front,” circa 1955.
Among her volumes of papers, photographs and memorabilia, an unfinished obituary was found.
“She once said this about herself,” Leutze says. “In the women’s movement, one of her keys to suc-cess
was that she was not strident and out there pounding on the table. That she could be counted
on for calm, reasoned, persistent advocacy, and could win people over who were not drawn to Bella
Abzug’s kind of approach. Marge knew that. Marge knew that was her ace in the hole, because that’s
the way she worked.”
As American women seek role models today, Marge Gates stands out as a woman possessed of her conviction, who knew what
she stood for. As opportunities manifested around her, she saw value in her worth and envisioned how she might further the cause.
While the world at large tried to hold her to the old paradigms, in the way she led her life, she empowered women to shift their
image from the inside out.
Margaret Jane Gates passed away December 19, 2018.
In 2002, she began writing a memoir of her life, beginning with her earliest girlhood memo-ries.
In these works that describe family gatherings on the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries, her
voice is very clear. She wrote of her ancestors — notably maternal grandparents who held posi-tions
of authority in nearby Washington, D.C., and of a beloved aunt with whom she drove to
Mexico and spent the better part of a summer.
Her plans to write more were outlined in her own hand on yellow ruled legal pads. Lists of
colleagues at the CIA, Georgetown Law, the U.S. Agriculture Department, the U.S. Justice
Department, and others who were lifelong friends were listed repeatedly. The duplication was a sign
that her mind was slipping and by 2014, Marge Gates’ memory loss was profound. All essay writ-ing