Santa Fe Living Treasures â€“ Elder Stories
Honored April, 2015
Marg VeneKlasen came into this world to make a difference. And she does. With her boundless energy and generosity of spirit she has made a tremendously positive impact on our city she so passionately loves. Marg and her late husband raised five impressively successful children, each following in her footsteps as outstanding contributing individuals.
It was the in the early 70's driven by her love for sports and children as well as her core values of fairness and equality, that Marg changed the lives of thousands of Santa Fe's children through soccer and skiing. She promoted and built a city-wide program to ensure that soccer,â€śthe people's sportâ€ť--played by private school kids at the time--would be extended to everyone, especially girls. Marg co-founded and served as board member of Northern New Mexico Soccer Club (now known as Northern Soccer Club) and through her efforts, got girls soccer to be sanctioned as a varsity sport. Marg worked not only as an administrator, but was on the field as a coach and a referee.
Marg believed skiing should not be an elitist sport, but available to every child. She was a major force behind the creation of the decades long Santa Fe Ski program providing over 40,000 public school children the opportunity to spend one afternoon per week in the winter learning to ski. Due to a tragic bus accident in 1999, the program was terminated, but Marg is working with the Mayor and City Council to reinstate this program to continue breaking through the inequality gaps in Santa Fe.
In recognition for these and other efforts, Marg was appointed to the Mayor's Advisory Board for Recreation for the City of Santa Fe, the National Federation of High Schools Soccer Rules Committee, and served as a member of the Parks and Land Commission for the city of Santa Fe. Mager's Field and Ft. Marcy Park would be condominiums if not for Marg's efforts to preserve them. In 2002 former Santa Fe Mayor Larry Delgado asked her to carry the Olympic Torch in the last prestigious leg of the journey to light the bonfire in the middle of the Plaza. And he proclaimed December 23, 2004 to be Margaret VeneKlasen Day, calling her a leader, an entrepreneur, and mother and grandmother, and a proud pillar of this community.
People from her past come forward to tell how they were influenced by Marg, how she helped them become better athletes, better students, better parents, better persons.
For nearly three decades Marg has been a very successful real estate agent. Her potential clients get a heartfelt introduction to our city through her stories, rich tales of history, and private tours. She has a property management company that is serious about paying descent wages and employing local people. In recognition of her many business accomplishments, she received a Business Woman of the Year award.
Marg's daughter described her mother as a woman way ahead of her timeâ€”a champion for girl power and women in sports, a fighter for fairness and the dignity of all people, an outspoken and unflinching critic of abuses of power and indifference...a citizen leader and an entrepreneur who's always put her community first, making sure that everyone has a chance to enjoy all her town has to offer. Standing up for what's right, breaking the barriers of race, gender and class, and siding with those who were left out didn't always make her the most popular. As Marg said, â€śIt's better to be true to yourself than to be popular.â€ť
A friend says, â€śIf you want Marg's opinion, ask. If you don't want the truth, don't ask. Her heart is huge and full of gold.â€ť
To this day Marg plays baseball, tennis and skis while running a successful business. She loves to tap dance and to sing. She has a great sense of humor and greets the world with a ready smile and endless energy. We are grateful for Marg's fierce love for our city, her youthful vigor, positive spirit, and all that she has given Santa Fe.
Story by Nancy Dahl
Photo Â© 2015 by Genevieve Russell