It is with heavy hearts that we announce the passing of Margaret Ellen Scott Gabaldon who departed this world on September 24, 2023, leaving behind a legacy of love, faith, and unwavering dedication to her family and community. Born on February 5, 1937, at the original St. Joseph’s Hospital, Margaret Ellen was raised in downtown Phoenix. Her younger sister Pat nicknamed her Yaya when they were children, and that name stuck throughout her long life. She graduated from St. Mary’s High School in Phoenix in 1955 and entered the Immaculate Heart of Mary Sisters in Southern California in 1956. Known as Sister Matthew Mary, she received her teaching degree from Northern Arizona University during her years as a nun.
In the late 1960s, she returned to lay life and became a teacher in Flagstaff. She then met the love of her life, Tony Gabaldon, and continued as an educator for the Phoenix Elementary School District #1 for more than 30 years, spending most of her career at Silvestre S. Herrera Elementary.
Even after retirement in 2003, her passion for education and the belief that reading was the most important skill a child could learn, Margaret volunteered until 2020. Her kindness and generosity in education quietly provided for many to attend Catholic high schools. She also supported first-generation students to pursue higher education. Margaret spent most of her life at St. Mary’s Basilica, offering countless hours volunteering in the choir, as a Eucharistic Minister, and preparing children and adults to receive the Sacraments (RCIA).
Margaret married Tony Gabaldon on June 27, 1975, and they were together for 23 years until his death. She never knew a stranger and would be sure to tell others that she and Tony were both proud 1. Catholics; 2. Democrats; and 3. ASU fans. Margaret and Tony bought the house that she was raised in and renovated it in the 1980s. That house in turn became the home base for many family members through their young adult years. Each of her siblings had at least one child who lived with Yaya for a spell and they adored the time spent with her.
Yaya made everyone feel like they were her favorite. Tony’s two daughters, Diana and Theresa, and their families held a special place in Margaret’s heart and they remained close over the years. She treasured the special Friday nights with her grandchildren – a tradition which entailed their favorite home cooked meals, movies, and games.
Margaret Ellen is survived by her dear sisters Patricia Rush, Cecilia Henderson (Jay) and Teresa Jackson, sister in-law Carmen Scott, brother in-law Ron Steingrebe, stepdaughters Diana Gabaldon Watkins (Doug) and Theresa Gabaldon Palmer (Robert), grandchildren Laura Watkins (Joe Koontz), Sam Watkins, Jenny Watkins Briongos (Iain), and William Palmer, great grandchildren Santiago and León Briongos, and countless nieces, nephews, and cousins. Margaret is preceded in death by her husband Tony Gabaldon, parents Matthew and Helena “Gyp” Scott, Glennie Scott, brother Joel Edward Scott, sister Marion Steingrebe, brother in-law Phil Rush, and many treasured aunts, uncles, and cousins.
Margaret will be remembered for her spunky spirit, zest for life, love for the Lord, passion for teaching, her delicious home cooked meals (she claimed to have perfected Tony’s enchilada recipe), singing, and gathering with her family and friends.
Services will be held at St. Mary’s Basilica in Phoenix on Thursday, September 28, 2023. A memorial Rosary will begin at 9:00 am (with a time for eulogies) and the Funeral Mass at 10:00am, with a reception to follow. A committal will take place the following day in Flagstaff at Calvary Cemetery. If you are not able to attend the Funeral Mass, you can live stream it on YouTube at @st.marysbasilica-phoenixaz4634.
In lieu of flowers the family kindly requests that donations be made to St. Vincent de Paul, St. Mary’s Basilica, or the Franciscan Renewal Center in Margaret’s memory; or simply purchase a book and read to a child as it was Margaret’s favorite pastime.