Brief Biography of Margaret M.Luther
Margarethe Maria von Glehn was born to Felix and Maria von Glehn in Narwa, Estonia on June 28,1909. Her mother died in child birth. Margaret, as she called herself when she became a US citizen , was raised by her aunts Alice and Agnes and lived with her father in Reval, (now Tallin) Estonia. Her grandfather was the American consul in Reval. She remembers walking as a little girl to the house of her grandmother Bernhard near the towers of the old city gate in the medieval town.
When the Russian Revolution came in 1917, her family fled to Germany and broke up. She came to live with the Loefflers in Zigahnen ( an estate in East Prussia, now Poland) and was raised by them together with their daughter, Liselotte ( Lotte) of the same age. Lotte’s aunt, who had studied art, gave the girls their first art lessons. Margaret finished high school there and then returned to Estonia, where she was adopted by her uncle Erwin Bernhard. In Reval she worked at a Ford car dealer ship and took some drawing lessons at night. She met Ferdinand (Fred) P.M. Luther and married him in July 1935 and lived for four happy years in Noemme, a suburb of Reval. Fred loved to sail and they would often go on weekends to Walkuell, a country place by the shore of the Baltic sea. Their first son, Lars, was born in 1936.
In 1939 their life was shattered. Hitler and Stalin divided up the Baltic states and Poland between them and brutally moved people to suit their plans. Fred and Margaret were told in September that they had one week to pack their things and that they would be moved to Eastern Germany. They came to Gdansk and in 1940 Holger was born. Margaret nearly died from an embolism that year. Then Fred was drafted by the German army as an interpreter and went to war in Russia. In the winter of 1945 the Russian army swept across Germany and Margaret and her two children fled to safety in the West of Germany. There after months of anguish the family was reunited with Fred, who found Margaret at the home of Lotte in Gluecksburg, Germany. There was no money to pay the rent and very little to eat. Margaret found work with an artist who made and sold gifts and souvenirs. Soon Fred and Margaret set up their own craft shop and she began to cut portrait silhouettes professionally. Gradually she extended her range to flower pictures and Madonnas. She refined her talent and created a clientele and had exhibits in Germany and Denmark.
Fred and Margaret applied for immigration to the US already in 1947, but it did not come about until 1955. A cousin of Margaret's, Senta Bernhard, who taught at Marietta College, sponsored the family. Margaret and Fred lived in Marietta, Ohio for about fifteen years. She worked at the public library and ran a very successful story hour program. She thrilled the kids by giving them small cutouts of the characters of the stories she told them. All the while the silhouettes kept pouring out, mostly garden and wild flowers, but also religious and mythical subjects. Fred worked at a local plant as a carpenter and made frames for her pictures.
In 1970 they moved to Philadelphia at the invitation of the Lutheran Church to work at the Glen Foerd estate; Fred as a gardener, Margaret as a guide for the many visitors who came to see the mansion. They discovered, cared for, and displayed many art treasures there which the original owner, Mrs. Foerderer, had collected. In 1978 they retired to Basking Ridge, NJ, living in a senior citizen complex, Ridge Oak. Margaret continued cutting silhouettes and Fred did carvings in wood and bone. Both of them sold many of their creations and some of their faithful clients drove out to Basking Ridge to buy them.
Fred died in 1992 and Margaret was invited by Lotte, her childhood companion, to live with her in Ottawa, Canada. Together they went to many concerts there. Margaret was nearly blind due to macular degeneration and the first signs of Alzheimer’s were apparent. In 1997 she came to a nursing home near Bethlehem, PA.
Lars C. Luther