By GEORGIA BULLETIN STAFF | Published November 7, 2013
ATLANTA—Marguerite Oberg helped put a smile on thousands of patients at Emory Saint Joseph’s Hospital.
Oberg, 91, retired from the hospital flower shop in October, after 40 years of volunteer service. She began volunteering at Saint Joseph’s in 1973 when the hospital was originally located in downtown Atlanta. She established its first flower shop and has served as its volunteer director ever since.
It started with a “bunch of carnations and bunch of ferns,” she said, but grew into something more. “When you go to visit somebody, you just want to bring them something. That’s why the simple arrangements are most popular. It does convey the feeling of friendship and love.”
On Thursday, Oct. 10, a ceremony was held to name the shop, filled with the fragrance of roses and lilies, the Marguerite Oberg Flower Shop. Oberg and her family members were in attendance at the event, as were many hospital employees and auxiliary staff. A special plaque notating “The Marguerite Oberg Flower Shop” now hangs at the entrance of the shop.
“Because of her years of dedication and service to the hospital, naming the flower shop after Marguerite is a special way we can honor her work and her commitment to the hospital, its patients, and staff,” said Marcia Schwefler, president of the Emory Saint Joseph’s Hospital auxiliary.
“I loved my work at the hospital flower shop for the 40 years I was there and am touched the shop has been named after me,” said Oberg. “It takes a team of dedicated ladies to produce the amount of flower arrangements we did for all those years, and we made a great team. I started it, but I couldn’t do it alone,” said Oberg.
She has a history of volunteering with church ministries. She was a member of the Our Lady of Perpetual Help Home auxiliary for some 40 years and also volunteered at St. Vincent de Paul. She served as a lector for years at the chapel at the hospital, attending Sunday Mass with her late husband, John.
“I’ve been very, very lucky, very, very fortunate,” she said. Her family was so giving and understanding when her volunteering kept her away from home, said Oberg, a mother of two grown daughters.
The flower shop at Emory Saint Joseph’s Hospital, located inside of the gift shop, is the only flower shop in the Southeast that continues to make its own arrangements in-house. Most hospitals contract with a flower service and have ready-made arrangements brought in. The shop also makes all the flower arrangements for hospital events, receptions, weddings and funerals.
For years, Oberg ordered the hospital’s flowers and picked them up each week from Hall’s, a downtown wholesaler, and then worked with the many other volunteers in the flower shop to create beautiful arrangements.
Oberg, who also served as auxiliary president, dedicated her work to hospital volunteering after a serious illness. She survived after being hospitalized for 19 days with appendix complications. When Oberg recovered, she knew she wanted to volunteer her time in a hospital.
“Marguerite Oberg personifies virtue, service and generosity,” said Mercy Sister Valentina Sheridan, director of Mission Integration at Emory Saint Joseph’s Hospital. “Volunteers throughout the years have been continually inspired by her leadership and example. Marguerite’s special gift for arranging flowers has been a particular blessing to patients, families, and staff, and Saint Joseph’s Hospital has been richly blessed by Marguerite’s financial gifts, commitment of time and abundant energy.”