Fund Est. 2007
Vaughn: June 18, 1910 - July 3, 1980
Margaret: Feb. 3, 1913 - Sept. 16, 2007
Margaret (Kitson) Hilyard Gifford, 94 of Decatur was the only child of Harvey Franklin and Mary Frances Elzey Kitson. She worked at the E.F.Gass store before graduating from Decatur High School in 1931, and later at the Kohne Drug Store next door. Then, she set off for Chicago to pursue her interest in nursing.
In 1931, while studying nursing at Wesley Memorial Hospital in Chicago, Margaret became quite ill and returned to Decatur to recuperate. While home in Decatur, for her seemingly brief recovery period, she and Vaughn Lowell Hilyard dated and the couple eloped on August 7, 1933. Later, when Mrs. Margaret Hilyard attempted to return to nursing school, she was informed that, as a married woman, she was ineligible as the nursing program was only for single women.
Margaret was well known in this area for her volunteer work and for having crocheted more than 600 lap robes and quilts, all of which were given to Adams Memorial Hospital patients, Golden Meadows Home, patients at the veterans hospital in Ft. Wayne, residents at Woodcrest Retirement Community, Pathways Adult Daycare, as well as other area hospitals, nursing homes, and charities. For many years, she was also a nurse’s aid and volunteer at the local hospital and she anonymously did many charitable acts for the local Boys and Girls Club as well as Habitat for Humanity and other organizations.
The couple was not wealthy, but they shared what they had. Vaughn was a mechanic and a filling station operator and for more than 25 years, Margaret was a salesperson and then an executive buyer for the Wolf & Dessauer stores. Margaret retired in 1975, at which time Vaughn and Margaret moved to Fort Myers, Florida, where Vaughn died in 1980. She later married Nelson Silsby Gifford, who was from the Fort Wayne area, but living in Florida. The couple traveled a great deal, until his death in 1992. She then moved back to Decatur in the fall of 2000.
Margaret was a legacy member of the local chapter of Tri Kappa, and served in numerous office positions. Margaret and Vaughn Hilyard were the parents of two daughters, Barbara Jo (Herbert) Krueckeberg and Gwendolyn Sue (Richard C.) Mies, and 23 legacy family members (grandchildren, etc.).