Schnider Funeral Home Great Falls Montana


Margaret C. Palagi
Margaret C. Palagi


Margaret C. Palagi

Apr 22, 1925 - May 13, 2017

Margaret Catherine Palagi left the world on May 13, 2017 to be with her Lord. The people around Margaret lost a doting wife, a loving mother, and a truly great and truly grand grandmother and great grandmother. The world lost a warrior, a woman who with the strength of her mercy and the depth of her kindness, spent her life doing the unglamorous work of fighting the injustices around her and helping the people that other people don’t always see.  Whether it was through her cherished church, Our Lady of Lourdes or through her work with the Salvation Army, Margaret fought not just poverty and misfortune, but also the cynicism that can come with fighting against the tide. Quite the contrary, the tide was no match for her.

Margaret was born in San Francisco, California on April 22, 1925 to George and Helen DeHahn. After spending her first few years in California, she would move to Montana, where she would thereafter make her home and where she would graduate from Great Falls High in 1943.  It was around this time that Margaret would meet her other half and her life’s greatest love, Howard Sebastian Palagi. They were married on August 24, 1948.

Margaret was an educator.  During a career that spanned decades, she taught more than a thousand students, from Fort Benton, to Stockett, to Dutton, and finally to Great Falls, where she taught at Franklin and Loy Elementary Schools before finally moving over to Longfellow Elementary, where she spent the last 15 years of her career. As an educator, she was deeply loved and respected by her students, colleagues, and administrators. Upon her retirement, it was said that she had “broken the mold” as a teacher, and that for years, parents had been trying to sign up early in hopes that they would get their children into Mrs. Palagi’s class and that her fellow teachers eagerly anticipated receiving students who had passed through her classes.  Additionally, she served on adoption committees for math, reading, report cards, and science and assisted in writing the state Kindergarten guide. She was a former president of the Northwest Classroom Teachers and member of the GFEA, MEA, and NEA.

During the time she was setting new standards as an educator, she and Howard found time to start and raise a family. From their three daughters, Lynn, Gina, and Cathy, they would see two more generations of the family come into being over the following decades.  Each and every member of each and every generation would be greeted by a grandmother or great grandmother who was there for them, not just as a mother figure with a kindness and dignity to aspire to (and a knack for baking), but as an active part of their lives. As someone who taught them the small lessons of keeping their noses and hands clean and to wear their seatbelts, but also to teach them to be nice. To be nice to the people around you and nice to people different from you and that there wasn’t any value in being a mean person.  In those ways, she never stopped educating and never stopped breaking the mold.

We will all miss Margaret Palagi, whether as a wife, a mother, a grandmother, a great grandmother, or as a kind stranger serving a hot meal. To say that her loss is a net loss for the world is an understatement, but to say that she lives on in small ways is also an understatement. She lives on in all of those who she taught and all of those she helped and for those of us who were lucky enough to call her our matriarch, we can trace back many of the things that are best about us and many of the best and kindest things we’ve done directly to her and she will live on in all those things and all the kind acts that she inspires from the people close to her that haven’t happened yet.

Margaret is survived by her husband, Howard Palagi; daughters Lynn Durham of Billings, MT, Gina (Jeff) White of Las Vegas, NV, and Cathy Palagi of Great Falls, MT; grandson Derek (Shar) Durham of Los Angeles, CA; granddaughters Blair Durham of Cheyenne, WY, Amanda Willner of Las Vegas, NV, Julie Daniels of Hailey, ID, Jena White of Las Vegas, NV, Jennifer Lee-Crisman of Great Falls, MT, and Andrea Lee-Hirose of Great Falls, MT; and four great grandchildren.

Family services at a later date.

In lieu of flowers, the family would ask that donations be made to the Salvation Army at

Public Guest Book

May 17th
Karen Hoover-Sparks
I worked many enjoyable hours at the Salvation Army Aux. with Margaret. I moved to Las Vegas but kept in touch with her. She was everything her obituary said she was. One wonderful lady and I was proud to have known her. RIP Margaret.
May 22nd
Lisl Barnhil Peterson
Mrs. Palagi was my teacher at Longfellow School. What an amazing lady . This was in 1975 ish . Mrs . Palagi was the kindest lady you would ever meet. 40+ years later I would see her walking at the mall or what not & she still remembered me and my brother. We sure were belessed to have her in our lives. May you RIP . All my love to you and your family. Lisa Barnhill Peterson
May 23rd
Sr. Johnelle Howanach
Please know you are in our prayers at this difficult time. It was a joy to see Margaret at the Soup Kitchen at St Anns. She will be missed.


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