Homeland resident Margie Welby: Seeing the world and raising a family


Homeland resident Margie Welby

Just back from living in Germany and Japan, where her father was stationed, 16-year-old Marjorie Welby and her family in the late 1950s moved to her dad’s new posting: Fort Dix in New Jersey.

One day when Margie was working in the post-exchange men’s department, a young soldier asked for “brass,” the term for uniform insignia. He motioned to a group of soldiers behind him and said he was paying for their brass, too. Then he asked for dress shoes.

Going into the stockroom to check, Margie found her coworkers in a tizzy. “Do you know who that is?” they squealed.

After her time overseas, Margie didn’t know U.S. pop culture, so she didn’t know that her handsome customer was Elvis Presley.

“He was so generous,” she said. “He picked up the whole tab and was just as nice as he could be.”

Since leaving a rehab hospital and coming to Homeland just before Christmas 2022, Margie has been getting stronger daily. Today, she enjoys reading in her personal care suite, participating in Homeland activities, and sharing stories of growing up in post-World War II as the daughter of an Army officer.

Margie was about seven years old when her World War II veteran father returned to the Army, getting posted to Munich, Germany, which was still devastated from bombings. Although her father was there to suppress post-war Germany’s black market, Margie’s mother had a secret. When she needed something like a pound of coffee or sugar, she would ask the German housemaid, who knew where to find things.

While in Munich, Margie’s father taught his children about the horrors of war and the evil humans can do by taking them to the Dachau concentration camp. The raw sights and smells of the Nazi death camp still lingered.

“When I hear people saying, ‘No, they didn’t do that to people then,’ I know that they did, because I saw the evidence,” she said. “I’ll never forget it as long as I live. We just don’t know how close we are to maybe having something like that happen again. So we’ve got to be careful.”

The family’s next overseas posting was in Japan. When the Army fielded a football team, the call went out for majorettes to round out the American experience. By now a teenager, Margie got one of the spots and was proud to march in her uniform with the Army band.

In the season’s final game against Air Force, Margie was knocked down on the sidelines by an Air Force player running to catch a ball. Still, she insisted on performing at halftime.

“I wanted to do my routine,” she said. “We had practiced so hard. Why not?”

Several years later, that perilous moment led to an incredible coincidence.

After graduating high school, Margie enlisted in the Air Force and met her future husband, Mike Berry, while stationed in Florida. Meeting his Boston-area family for the first time, she learned that Mike’s brother had played football for the Air Force in Japan – and he turned out to be the player who knocked her down!

“I ‘fell’ for my brother-in-law before I ever fell for my husband,” Margie jokes.

Margie loved the Air Force but left when she became pregnant with her first child. She and Mike had five children while he traveled as a daring motion picture photographer and pilot. Working for Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, he once descended into the ocean depths with Jacques Cousteau in the Alvin submersible as cinematographer for an award-winning film.

“He was the adventurer,” Margie said. “He was not afraid of anything. He would hang out of a helicopter to get a good picture.”

Two of Margie’s children, her eldest son, and daughter, have passed away. After her daughter died in her mid-40s from Alzheimer’s, the family turned tragedy into hope, raising money for Alzheimer’s research through an annual golf tournament.

“It brings a good crowd,” she said. “We have a fantastic day, with a little luncheon and great prizes. We’ve given away a car!”

Now at Homeland, Margie attends activities, reads Gospel passages for worship services, and even has an autographed photo of an Elvis impersonator who performed for the residents.

“It’s nice here,” she said. “There are so many people here who are so intriguing. They have amazing stories.”

The staff, she adds, are “so sweet. They’re kind. I’m sure I drive them nuts, but they forgive me. They’re wonderful. They really are.”