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Grand marshal Margaret Vaughan: Returning to her roots

June 30, 2008

By Ryan Gueningsman
Managing Editor

With a family history in Delano stemming back to the 1940s, Margaret (Cedergren) Vaughan was as happy to represent Delano 40 years ago as the first Miss Delano as she is to ride once again in the Fourth of July parade in 2008 as its grand marshal.

“Forty years is a long time,” Vaughan said. “I really don’t know what to say. I remember being very proud of representing a town that I loved – and still do. It was a wonderful childhood growing up in Delano.”

Vaughan was crowned the first Miss Delano at the city’s “Centennial Observance Celebration” over the Fourth of July in 1968. She competed against 10 other young women for the chance to represent Delano, including June Teas, Sherry O’Neel, Catherine Ditty, Joyce Gerard, Penny Schreder, Margaret Moonen, Gail Gallus, Rosalyn Bowman, Carol Gerard, and Mary Lou Logsdon.

“I thought for sure Catherine Ditty was going to win – she was so cute and sweet and skinny,” Vaughan said. Along with Vaughan, Ditty ended up being crowned a princess, as did Joyce Gerard.

Vaughan’s mother, Evelyn Cedergren, was a good friend of the owner of Theo’s Fashion Shop in Delano, and she said her parents used to play cards with the owners.

“Various stores in downtown Delano were sponsoring a person, so Theo asked me if she could sponsor me in the contest,” Vaughan recalled.

Another name Vaughan cited as being very influential in the Delano Royalty program was Eleanor Pagenkopf, who Vaughan said was president of the local chamber of commerce at the time.

“She was the chaperone, and was very active in getting this program started,” Vaughan recalled. “It was my understanding at that time it was the anniversary of the town of Delano being incorporated.”

The coronation ceremonies were July 3 at the Delano Ball Park during the centennial observance celebration. The emcee of the event was former baseball and football player Paul Giel, who was an all star quarterback for the Minnesota Gophers football team and also pitched for the Minnesota Twins and several other major league teams. The event also featured the Minnetonka Clipper Chorus.

“It was all just very exciting, very flattering,” Vaughan said. “My parents, of course, were thrilled – I think we went back and had steaks on the grill that night.”

Vaughan’s family was very active in the Delano community, and she said her father, Robert, moved to Delano in the late 1940s to work at Ditty Plumbing and Heating. Her father was also the mayor of Delano in the early 1950s.

“He was very active, and I think really loved the town – our mother did too,” Vaughan said. She remembers both of her parents taking part in various volunteer opportunities, including helping with shooting off fireworks at the Fourth of July, working at the hamburger stand, and helping out with church activities.

Along with Margaret was her brother, Robert Jr., who was a biochemist at the University of Montreal; sister Janet Gilbertson, who is a certified public accountant in Coon Rapids; sister Barbara Piculell, who is a nurse, and lives in Burnsville; and sister Patricia, who lives Orange County, California, and works at Kodak.

Margaret graduated from Delano High School in 1966 – two years before being named the first Miss Delano. She went on to St. Cloud State University for a year, and also went to the University of Minnesota.

“It was that year – 1968 – that was a tumultuous year,” Vaughan recalled. “The assassinations of Bobby Kennedy, Martin Luther King Jr., and there was just a lot of campus unrest.”

She moved to California for a year, and then went back to St. Cloud State to obtain a degree in psychology and sociology.

Vaughan was married to John Peterson, who is still a resident of Delano, but said education took her to Michigan and Boston, Mass., and said her life changed.

She worked with influential psychologist, author, and inventor BF Skinner at Harvard, and eventually wrote a book with him called “Enjoy Old Age.”

“He was probably 76 or 77 – he died about 10 years later,” Vaughan said. “During his last couple years alive, he started speaking on the topic of aging – and staying as intellectually sharp as you can.”

Vaughan began working with Skinner in 1981, and in 1983, their book was published. Vaughan dedicated the book to her father, Robert, and Skinner also dedicated the book to his father.

Today, Vaughan remains active at Salem State College, but doesn’t teach much anymore. She is involved with the faculty union, and on a statewide level for the nine-college state system. She resides on Chebeague Island, Maine.

Vaughan said she never had any children, but enjoys the company of several pets. When she’s not working, she enjoys biking, swimming, sailing, and gardening.

Overall, Vaughan said the Miss Delano program brought her a sense of maturity and confidence that allowed her to pursue her education.

Because she lives out east, she hasn’t kept up too much with the royalty program, but said she is very excited to come back and experience riding in her first parade in 40 years.

“How can you say no to that?” she said. “I’m a little embarrassed. I’m almost 60 years old, and I feel there are so many talented people that live in Delano that should be recognized. It’s very sweet.

“I’m looking forward to it.”

Vaughan makes it back to Delano three or four times a year, and said she has been back a bit more recently because of her mother’s health. Her mother, Elaine, will turn 99 in December, and lives in New Hope.

“I know she’d be very proud on the Fourth of July if she saw me as grand marshal,” Vaughan said.

Every time she makes it back to the Twin Cities area to visit family or friends, she finds herself making her way back to Delano.

“I take time to drive by our old house, drive down main street and fantasize about coming back and having a little Italian restaurant – it’s a wonderful town,” Vaughan said, adding with a laugh that if she does ever decide to follow that dream, she may need to brush up on her cooking skills a bit.

Vaughan will be featured in the 2008 Delano Fourth of July parade at 10:30 a.m. Friday, July 4.

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