Even in the middle of such massive destruction — with collapsed apartment buildings and smashed cars everywhere she looked — it was a small, shaken psyche that concerned Margie Creager most.
Thankfully, the boy was OK.
But at 3 years old, living through an earthquake hadn’t left him completely unscathed: He was still worried that “a boogie man would come again” and toss him from his bed.
So Creager talked him through it.
“Mothers and dads have to pay special attention to kids like that,” Creager told the Tulsa World later, after returning from the scene of the 1994 California earthquake.
“They have to talk to them, hold them. … They have to be patient, and not say that another earthquake won’t happen, but that Mom and Dad are here.”
A nationally recognized Red Cross volunteer who specialized in counseling at disaster scenes, Creager offered many consoling words like those over the years.
Whether children or adults, survivors or even emergency workers, “sometimes they just need to be listened to,” she said.
“You tell them it’s OK to cry, that what happened isn’t their fault. You help them see there’s hope for the future.”
Marge Louise Creager, a retired Tulsa Public Schools educator who volunteered with Red Cross for 65 years, died Jan. 24. She was 90.
A service is set for 2 p.m. Friday at Asbury United Methodist Church. Moore’s Southlawn Funeral Home is handling arrangements.
Creager’s activities won her many honors through the years, including some national ones. In 1998 alone, she was Red Cross’ National Grandparent of the Year and one of five Ageless Hero honorees recognized by Blue Cross Blue Shield.
Most recently, in 2012, she was presented the Live United Spirit Award by the Tulsa Area United Way.
Over her time as a Red Cross volunteer, Creager participated in relief efforts for more than 40 disasters, including, notably, the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in New York City and the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing.
Along the way, there were also countless tornadoes and hurricanes.
Of all of them, the 1994 earthquake that rocked Los Angeles left the biggest impression on her, she said later.
Creager’s daughter, Connie Duvall of Tulsa, said she couldn’t help being concerned for her mother’s safety at times, knowing she was going to devastated areas.
“Oh yes, we worried, especially about how she was going to be able to get to where she was going.”
But Creager always made it back.
“Mom just always had a real giving, giving heart,” Duvall said.
Born Marge Stauffer in Ingersoll in Alfalfa County, Creager was the daughter of a wheat farmer and oldest of five children.
At Ketchum High School, she was president of every class before going on to Oklahoma A&M, where she earned a degree in health and physical education. Later she would add a master’s degree in guidance counseling from the University of Tulsa.
Her career with the Tulsa school district would span 50 years. A PE teacher and counselor for much of that, she finished with a long stint at Memorial High School as a dean.
Creager’s volunteering with Red Cross started as a swimming instructor. She would go on to teach CPR and various safety courses, and work in blood collection, which inspired her to donate more than 10 gallons of her own over the years.
Disaster relief, as a licensed mental health counselor, came later.
Regina Moon, Red Cross CEO in Tulsa, said Creager “inspired me in my service … (and) gave a wonderful feeling to so many over six-plus decades. She caused people to feel warmly about the work we do and the people who do it — our volunteers.”
Moon said she recalls Creager saying that Red Cross service could be a lifelong thing, “something you would never be sorry for and you could say goodbye to this good world knowing that you have done the best you can.”
Creager kept active all her life, pursuing various interests. As a licensed tour guide, she led groups of travelers around the world.
And in her 80s, the onetime college marching band drummer joined Asbury UMC’s Saints of Swing band, playing at retirement centers and other venues.
Creager was never too busy, though, when people were hurting.
“God gave me the ability to face these things,” she said. “I’ve worked with people so long and can feel what they’re going through. I’ve had a full life.”
Creager’s late husband was Mack Creager, well-known Tulsa television and radio sports announcer. She was also preceded in death by three brothers.
Survivors include her four children, Connie Duvall, Carol Creager, Larry Creager and Robert Creager; eight grandchildren; eight great-grandchildren; and a sister, Ann Fox.