Salk Institute for Biological Studies: InsideSalk

Remembering Marguerite:'The Sort of Lady She Was'

Roger Greig recalls noticing something peculiar during his morning drive soon after joining the Salk as the security supervisor in 1993: an elderly women jogging on the side of the road wearing a backpack. It was Marguerite Vogt, professor in the Molecular and Cell Biology Laboratory, also on her way to work. She was 80 years old at the time.

A few years later, a faculty member who was concerned for her safety approached Greig about arranging transportation for Marguerite. Greig agreed wholeheartedly.

He drove her to work for the next eight years, including Saturdays for two of those years. Sometimes his wife would drive, other times colleagues from Salk would pitch in.

"You just couldn't say no to her," Greig admits. "She was such a sweet-natured lady, she really was. She would have gone in seven days a week if she could."

In the mornings, around 6:20 a.m., he would pull up in front of Marguerite's house and see her sitting inside, checking her wristwatch. She usually wore trousers, tennis shoes, a sweater, and a scarf around her neck. She carried her lunch box and a bag of science magazines with her to the front passenger seat.

Greig remembers how she would tease him if he was a minute late for pickup, or if he was cautious at a yellow light. On one morning, Marguerite had something stuck in her throat during the drive in, and she asked him to strike her on the back to dislodge it.

"I said, 'Marguerite, there are people watching! It's not going to look good!' " But at the next traffic light, he obliged.

She urged him to whack her back even harder, he says, and then she chuckled, "I'm going to tell them you hit an old lady."

Over the years, Marguerite's hearing and memory began to falter. Eventually she moved to a retirement home in Del Mar Heights. "She loved to watch the sun rise over the Torrey Pines Mesa," Greig recalls.

When the two of them arrived at work, he would offer her his arm as they walked from the car to her office, and then he would help her put on her lab coat. After that, he says Marguerite would spend the day reading the magazines she had brought along. And sometimes, she would fall asleep.

"She would leave things out to share with the post-docs, like the sandwiches she brought with her, with a little note saying, 'Please help yourself'," Greig says fondly. "That's the sort of lady she was."

InsideSalk 11|07 Issue | © Salk Institute for Biological Studies