Mary Margret McGuirk, a longtime Venice resident who served as former president of the Venice Beach chapter of the Penguins “New Year’s Day” Swim Club and a member of other local organizations, has died. She was 82.

McGuirk passed away peacefully at her home June 20 with her family by her side.

She was born March 16, 1929 to Leo J. and Matilda Magdalena (Tilly) Berg in New Ulm, Minn. An early accomplishment that McGuirk was very proud of was the fact that she did not miss one day of school prior to graduation from high school, her family said.

McGuirk went on to graduate from St. Mary’s Academy in Rochester, Minn. as a registered nurse. Almost immediately upon graduating, she left her home state to join her sister Corinne and lifelong friends Marie, Reichel and Maryann in Southern California where she would remain a resident for the remainder of her life.

McGuirk worked for over 40 years as a nurse and in other capacities at Saint John’s Hospital in Santa Monica. Once in California, McGuirk immediately jumped into, both literally and figuratively, the beach life, friends said.

She swam in the ocean almost every day of her life, and this devotion led her to the Venice Beach chapter of the Penguins “New Year’s Day” Swim Club, where she served as president until 2009. In addition to the Penguins, McGuirk was a proud member of organizations including the Venice Historical Society and St. Joseph Center.

In 1952 she met her future husband Richard McGuirk and by 1959, they had settled at their home in Venice, where they raised three children and a granddaughter.

McGuirk was a loving wife, mother, grandmother, sister, aunt and good friend to all whom she met, friends said. In addition to the ocean and swimming, she loved hiking, biking, a good book, yoga, fruit, a laugh and a dash of sherry. She was a woman of strong faith, integrity, sense of humor, warmth and compassion, friends said.

She was preceded in death by her parents and husband. She is survived her son Michael P. McGuirk; daughters Peggy M. Perez and Anna M. McGuirk; grandchildren Mona Perez, James and Taylor McGuirk; sisters Corinne and Rita; brothers Richard and Leo Jr. (Bud); and countless friends and extended family.

A celebration of McGuirk’s life will be held at 10 a.m. Saturday, July 23 at St. Marks Church, 940 Coeur d’Alene Ave., Venice. A private interment, at Holy Cross Cemetery, will be held at a later date. In lieu of flowers, contributions can be made to the Venice Historical Society, P.O. Box 12844 Venice, CA 90295.

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