PEO Chapter I creates NSU scholarship to honor Margaret Harling

Natchitoches P.E.O. Chapter I established a scholarship in memory of past president Margaret Harling through the Northwestern State University Foundation. The Margaret Harling Steel Magnolia annual scholarship will be presented to a female sophomore, junior or senior level student for one semester with preference given to an individual with Type I Diabetes.

Margaret Jones Harling was born on July 16, 1923, in Cave Spring, Georgia. After graduating Cave Spring High School she entered a three year nursing program at Crawford Long Hospital in Atlanta, Georgia, and then enrolled in the Army Nurse Corps where she earned the rank of 2nd Lieutenant. After her service she obtained a bachelor’s in nursing from the University of Georgia where she met Robert M. Harling Jr. and they married on the day of her graduation in 1950.

They had three children Robert III, Susan and John. They moved to Natchitoches in 1966 where she continued her career in psychiatric nursing at the Natchitoches Mental Health Clinic and Evergreen Ministries. She received her master’s in nursing in 1978. She retired in 1995.

Margaret was active in her faith as a member of the First Presbyterian Church of Natchitoches as well as numerous charities such as Threads of Love which sews warm clothing for babies in neo-natal ICU units. She also held leadership positions in the Association of the Preservation of Historic Natchitoches (APHN) where she chaired restoration projects and organized children tours of historic Natchitoches. She was a longtime member of P.E.O. and the Daughters of the American Revolution.

Margaret, along with her daughter Susan, were the original Steel Magnolias. Margaret’s love and determination through difficult times inspired her son Bobby to create the play of the same name. Later Margaret used the opportunities provided by the success of the play and movie to raise awareness and funding for juvenile diabetes and kidney research.

She passed away in 2013.

Friends who wish to contribute to the Margaret Harling Steel Magnolia Scholarship can do so by visiting

Pictured: Members of Natchitoches P.E.O. Chapter I created a scholarship in memory of past president Margaret Harling. On the front row from left are Amelia Spillman, Vickie Gentry, Susan Massia and Scotti Rodgers. On the back row are Mimi Stoker, Nicole Connell, Tammy Graves, Linda Cockrell, Sharon Ebarb, Toni Rushing, Ellis Melder, Michele Waskom, Phyllis Collins, DeeDee Perot, Stephanie Campbell and Amelia Ferguson.