Margaret Sedenquist

Margaret H. Sedenquist, S.E.C.,
In Memoriam

Margaret H. Sedenquist, S.E.C., was a longtime member of the Society and served as its President in 1995 and 1996. Her biography is a story of adventure, intellect, and courage.

Childhood and School:
Margaret had deep roots in the state of Wyoming and in its history. She said, “The history of Wyoming is filled with the history of my family.” James C. Shaw, her maternal grandfather drove herds of 4,000 to 5,000 cattle and led 100 cowboys up the Texas trail to Wyoming and Nebraska. Biographies have been written about Jim Shaw, detailing his cowboy exploits and the cattle drives he led. In 1930, Jim wrote Pioneering in Texas and Wyoming, telling of his journey from South Texas to Wyoming in the 1870s and his part in building the state from a wilderness. Jim purchased his South Dakota ranch from Teddy Roosevelt.

While James was writing history, his wife, Margaret’s grandmother, was helping run the family cattle operations, which spread over Nebraska, New Mexico, Wyoming, and South Dakota. In 1913, Mrs. Shaw decided to build a house. She hired an architect from Ohio, who lived with the family for three years during the construction of their eight-bedroom home. The Shaw house was a model for its time with indoor plumbing and electricity, and it is still considered an area landmark.

Margaret was the first of Ruth Shaw and Fred A. Hageman’s six children. She was raised on a cattle ranch northeast of Douglas, Wyoming. Fred Hageman had a lumberyard, a grain elevator, and a general store in Shawnee. The depression and a great drought forced the family to move to Fred’s homestead. Fred worked in Douglas as a carpenter and a surveyor while building the ranch into a cattle operation. Margaret describes her father as a man of great ability and intelligence.

To pay for music lessons and shoes, the family raised chickens and sold eggs, cream, and butter. Money was not needed for clothes because her mother sewed those for the family.

Despite the depression and tight family finances, Margaret spoke of her childhood with great fondness. She talked of visiting aunts, uncles, and cousins on the Platte River and of having good times with a house full of children playing cards, riding horses, and enjoying the rural life.

Margaret attended a country school in Shawnee until the 12th grade. After graduation she attended the University of Wyoming in Laramie, where she studied journalism and graduated with a degree in psychology.

Early Career:

“People perform best when they are given the information they need and want.”

Upon graduating from college, Margaret worked as a research psychologist in employee and community relations at the General Electric plant in Schenectady, New York. GE was concerned about possible employee strikes and work interruption, so the company focused on improving employee relations and hired Margaret for this purpose. With an attitude that served her well throughout her life, Margaret saw her lack of prior experience as an opportunity to see the situation from a fresh point of view. She insisted on talking directly to the workers and spent more time on the factory floor than in her office. Soon, workers began coming to Margaret with their concerns and needs.

Margaret determined that the employees wanted feedback. The terms and concept of “empowerment” and “employee buy-in” had not only not come into vogue, but they were unheard of at that time. She trained the foremen how to bring the employees into the chain of information and how to draw ideas from them. She established a process of providing information and a system of evaluation with feedback.

The basic research and ideas that Margaret had at age 23 and used at General Electric have been employed at Harvard Business School and in most industrial psychology studies for the past 25 years.

Marriage and Motherhood:

“Having healthy children who have been educated and are productive members of society is an important achievement.”

Because of family demands, Margaret returned to Wyoming and school. She began teaching high school literature and English in Cody, Wyoming. Her interest in drama surfaced, and she was given the job of directing the high school drama “Lost Horizon.”

It was during this time that she met Charles Sedenquist, a chemical engineer at Husky Oil. They married in August, and for the next 11 years she worked at home raising their family. When her son Mark became very ill, Margaret began studying the effects of vitamins and eating habits on health and wellness.

 Real Estate:

“Real estate seemed like a good way to have the time for my family and to make money; I had no idea it would be so much fun.”

When Diana, her youngest child, was two years old, Margaret decided she needed a job where she could spend time with her children and make money. Real estate seemed perfect. She saw exchanging as a wonderful vehicle for her clients to improve their holdings and allow their estates to build in a tax deferred position.

Many clients worked with Margaret for years. She had several clients who came to her with non-producing properties and through counseling and exchanging, she helped them become multi-millionaires. Through a series of exchanges over a period of several years, Margaret counseled one client from an 8-unit apartment project in Pasadena that needed repairs into a 48-unit project and a shopping center.

Margaret spent years working in organized real estate, culminating in being vice president, treasurer, and president of the Pasadena Board of Realtors. She also served as the president of the Los Angeles Boards of Realtors.

Volunteer Spirit:

“People are blessed when they give. Giving should be a joy because it produces prosperity for both the person receiving and the person giving.”

Giving back to the community and the less fortunate has always been a high priority for Margaret. As a senior warden and stewardship chairperson of All Saints Episcopal Church, Margaret was put in charge of the annual gifting program, which had an historically annual collection of $140,000. Margaret increased this figure to over $2 million annually.

She saw giving as a joyous expression of a person’s own life and blessings. With this philosophy, she began training members of the congregation how to raise funds. There could be no talk of the needs of the church; guilt was not to be used as a motivation. Each and every expression of giving had to be a joyous experience, and all sorts of fun needed to be added to the process. All Saints has financially benefited from this program, but the members have benefited more by discovering the blessing of giving.

Women in the Vestry:

“It still gives me such a thrill to see women put on the vestments.”

Margaret’s involvement in the Episcopal Church went far beyond changing an attitude toward giving. She started the process of getting women ordained because she witnessed a shift in her daughter’s attitude toward the role of a woman. Margaret realized that her child was being affected because the church was sending its messages in a single gender.

Margaret began talking to George Regas, the rector at All Saints, about God’s grace and noting that it extended to women and was not a male domain. She started keeping track of gender-oriented words in the sermons and liturgy. During her first recording period, 100 gender-oriented words were used; 97 were male-oriented. The three female terms used were mother, daughter, and wife. She began sending these tallies to George and having meetings with him to discuss them.

Margaret’s next focus was to get women into the priesthood. She initiated an ad hoc committee for this purpose. This pilgrimage ultimately led to the Diocesan Convention, where she made the motion to change the language in the Diocesan and canon’s by-laws to include women.

Bill Rodiger, the attorney for the Diocese, surprised by this unscheduled motion, tried to floor it by formally asking, “If we address this matter next year, would Mrs. Sedenquist be satisfied?”

In response, Margaret delivered one of her show-stopping one-liners: “From you Mr. Rodiger, I am not seeking satisfaction, only justice.” This memorable response ensured that the idea was not dismissed. The next year the National Convention began adopting gender changes in the diocesan and canons, which ultimately led to the inclusion of women in the priesthood.

Margaret Sedenquist’s business activities included:

  • Owner of real estate brokerage company M. H. Sedenquist & Co., which specializes in investment properties including apartments, houses and commercial office buildings
  • Owner of Mohawk Management Corp., a property management company
  • 50% owner and chair of the board of Sedenquist-Fraser Enterprise, Inc., which is the owner of S. F Technology and Leisure Components, a plastics factory
  • Founder of and member of the board of directors of Commercial Pacific Bank and former chair of the board of Commercial Pacific Bank

Margaret’s community activities included:

  • Chairperson of Five Acres, a home for abused children
  • President of the Pasadena Playhouse State Theatre of California
  • President of Pasadena Chamber Orchestra
  • Past president of the Society of Exchange Counselors and member of the board
  • Senior warden and stewardship chairperson, All Saints Church
  • Member of the board of directors of the YWCA
  • Founder of Foothill Apartment Association

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