The Rev. Margaret D. “Margo” Tyndall, a director and later minister of religious education, activist for peace and justice, and dedicated servant of the Unitarian Universalist tradition, died at her home in San Rafael, California, on 29 March 2014 at the age of 91.
Margo Tyndall was one who walked her talk. In the aftermath of Tibetan resistance against China in the late 1950s, she and husband Gordon became passionate about the plight of Tibetan children. Together they raised thousands of dollars for the Tibetan Refugee Children’s Education Fund, and housed a number of Tibetan refugees in their Oakland (California) home. Both were active with the Berkeley Buddhist Peace Fellowship and studied Vipassana meditation. Margo’s wide-ranging interests included swimming, hiking, painting, calligraphy, and short story writing. Over the years Margo pursued a somewhat itinerant career in education and ministry, serving wherever Gordon’s career moves took the family.
Margaret Patricia Davies was born on 7 March 1923 in Berkeley, California, to Harold and Kathleen Davies, grew up in nearby Oakland, and attended Anna Head School for Girls (now Head-Royce School). She went on to study at Stanford University and UC Berkeley, where she met teaching assistant Gordon Tyndall; they were married in 1942. Finishing his Ph.D. in economics shortly thereafter, Gordon returned to his native Canada and enlisted in the Canadian army. The newlyweds spent the rest of the war years in various parts of Canada wherever Gordon was assigned. Their first two children were born during those Canadian years. After the war Gordon’s career took the family to California, Ithaca, New York, and Pittsburgh, where Margo was finally able to complete a bachelor’s degree in English from Carnegie Mellon University in 1952.
Early in 1952 and already three months pregnant, Margo with Gordon and their two children set out to Europe on Gordon’s Fulbright Scholarship. Their third child Ben was born that summer in Vienna. Soon after returning to the States, Gordon’s work led them back to the San Francisco Bay Area. They settled in Berkeley in 1953 where they remained for the next fourteen years, except for a sabbatical year in Europe (1965).
It was the stability of these years in Berkeley, during her older children’s teen and young adult years, that gave Margo the opening to develop her interest in liberal religious education. She and Gordon were among the founders of the Berkeley Fellowship of Unitarians (now Unitarian Universalists) where both taught Sunday school and Margo served as Religious Education Director (DRE) in 1961-62. This led her to study for professional ministry at Starr King School for the Ministry, where she earned her M.Div. in 1968.
Following Gordon’s taking a position at the University of Edmonton (Alberta) in 1967, Margo served the Unitarian Church there over most of the next eleven years, alternating between roles as DRE (1967-71, 1976-78) and associate minister (1971-73, 1977-78). The UUA granted her DRE certification in 1970 and the Edmonton church ordained her to UU ministry in 1971. At various times in her Edmonton years, the Rev. Ms. Tyndall served as membership chair of the Liberal Religious Educators Association (LREDA) and as emergency room chaplain at the University of Alberta hospital. Life in Edmonton was interrupted for two years (1974-76) when Gordon’s career took them to Nairobi, where Margo taught English at a Roman Catholic girls school.
Margo Tyndall and student
After Gordon’s retirement in 1978, Margo was free to lead the way back to her beloved San Francisco Bay Area where she joined the UU Church of Berkeley, volunteered in the RE program, and became active in the East Bay Sanctuary Covenant (EBSC), providing assistance to refugees fleeing persecution in Central America. Sr. Maureen Duignan, the Sanctuary’s executive director, remembers Margo as “a very graceful person, [who] associated herself with EBSC for many years . . . and contributed financially to our ministry.” Margo returned to professional work in 1989, accepting a call to the UU Fellowship of Redwood City, and served there as Minister of Religious Education until 1992. In retirement she continued her dedication to working with children as a tutor in the Richmond (Calif.) Reading Project.
Her husband of seventy-one years having died in 2013, Margo is survived by a daughter, Caroline Salcedo, sons, David and Benjamin, grandchildren, Antonio, Ricardo, and Nina, and seven great-grandchildren. Notes of condolence may be sent in care of David Tyndall at 1510 Stallion Court, McKinleyville, California 95519.