Margaret J. Cornella O’Leary

Margaret (Margie) J. Cornella O’Leary passed away on Aug. 22. She was preceded in death by her parents, Rose and Chester Cornella and brother John. 

O’Leary was born on July 7, 1938 in Leadville. She moved to Florence in 1953 and completed her freshman year at Florence High School. O’Leary then relocated to Pueblo and completed her high school career as a proud Bulldog at Centennial High School. The day after her graduation, she embarked upon a long career with 39 years of service at the Colorado Mental Health Institute at Pueblo, starting as a psychiatric technician and then as an RN, after completing her nursing degree in 1967. 

O’Leary completed her bachelor’s in 1978 from the University of Colorado and her master’s in nursing administration from the University of Colorado in 1987. Her enthusiasm for education led her to serve as a nursing instructor for University of Southern Colorado (USC), Pueblo Community College and Bethel and Trinidad Jr. College.

O’Leary was a school nurse for Pueblo School District 60 and the health/handicap coordinator for the Head Start program. She volunteered for the Red Cross, providing nursing services for the Colorado State Fair, worked as an Advanced EMT and was a crisis intervention psychiatric nurse counselor. O’Leary was recognized as one of the 90 Colorado Outstanding Nurses in 1994, USC Outstanding Women’s Award nominee in 1982-83, Florence Nightingale Award Nominee in 1986 and 1991, and received the Governor’s Award for Team Management in 1995. She was inducted into the Centennial Hall of Fame in 2000. She served on the human resource committee of Friendly Harbor Community Center and the Centennial Foundation. She was a member of multiple professional nursing organizations and published several articles related to mental health and child welfare.   

O’Leary’s family said she loved life, family, her kitties and her Broncos, Buffalos and Bulldogs. Her family said she will be greatly missed.

O’Leary is survived by her daughter, Kathy (Dan) Atencio, sister-in-law, Donna (John) Cornella and numerous extended family members.  A celebration of her life was held at the Sacred Heart Cathedral in Pueblo.