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Originally published January 11, 2010 at 9:27 PM | Page modified January 11, 2010 at 11:25 PM

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Marguerite Carruthers, 97, cared for children in Beacon Hill for 30 years

To those and knew and loved her she was Mrs. C, a 4-foot-11 dynamo who cared for children in her Beacon Hill home for 30 years. Marguerite Carruthers, 97, died Thursday from injuries she suffered in an automobile accident in Renton. Her son already had been planning her 100th birthday party.

Seattle Times staff reporter

To those who knew and loved her she was Mrs. C, a 4-foot-11 dynamo who cared for children in her Beacon Hill home for 30 years.

Even those who couldn't pay were not turned away.

Marguerite Carruthers, 97, died Thursday from injuries she suffered in an automobile accident in Renton.

Her son already had been planning her 100th birthday party.

His mother never forgot a birthday, said son Frank Carruthers, of Kent, and she always made sure to send a birthday card.

After she died, her granddaughter was clearing out her home and found hundreds of birthday cards sent to Mrs. Carruthers. She never threw them away, said granddaughter Julie McCullough, of Des Moines.

"She was so independent and had such a strong mind," said McCullough, adding that her grandmother was living independently at the time of her death.

"Her goal in life was to never go into assisted living and to outlive her dad. He lived until he was 96, and she was so excited when she got to 97."

Mrs. Carruthers, who closed her day-care center in 1988 and subsequently moved to Renton, never turned a child away, even if the parent couldn't pay, McCullough said. She has a set of fine china that her grandmother was once given as payment for child care.

Born in Belgium, Mrs. Carruthers moved to Seattle as a child in 1920. Over the years that she ran her Beacon Hill day-care center, she cared for more than 100 children, said McCullough.

Gail Rowan, 44, started going to Mrs. Carruthers' day-care center when she was 6 months old and continued going there until she was almost 10. She said Mrs. Carruthers attended her wedding in 1986.

"She was wonderful," said Rowan, who stayed in touch with Mrs. Carruthers over the years. "For all of us kids, she just loved us. We knew we were safe."

If her parents were late picking her up, Rowan said, she would stay with Mrs. Carruthers, and she remembers watching "The Lawrence Welk Show" with her.

Her mother gave Rowan's old crib to Mrs. Carruthers, and one day Mrs. Carruthers called Rowan to see if she wanted it back for her own children. She'd protected it with towels all the years since she'd closed the day-care center.

Jan Lyver's son was cared for at Mrs. Carruthers' day-care center, and she, too, remained close to Mrs. Carruthers over the years.

For more than a decade, before Mrs. Carruthers died, Lyver took her grocery shopping every Tuesday and then out to dinner.

"She was a wonderful baby-sitter, and she loved kids," said Lyver, who added that Mrs. Carruthers loved to cook and always fed the children healthful meals. "I felt like she was my second mom."

Mrs. Carruthers loved to garden and helped with bingo Monday nights near her home. If the accident hadn't happened, "she would have made it to 100," Lyver said.

Mrs. Carruthers' son said even though his mother has died, he's going to throw her a 100th birthday party.

"We'll still have a party for her even if she's not there," Frank Carruthers said. "She was living for that."

In addition to her son and granddaughter, Mrs. Carruthers is survived by a grandson, Kevin, who is stationed with the Air Force in Hawaii. Her husband died in 1978.

Services are at 11 a.m. Friday at St. Stephen the Martyr Catholic Church, 13055 S.E. 192nd St., Renton.

The family suggests memorials be sent to Medic One or Harborview Medical Center.

Susan Gilmore: 206-464-2054 or sgilmore@seattletimes.com

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