Margaret Bierly

Obituary of Margaret Mary Bierly

With profound sadness, we announce the passing of Dr. Margaret Mary Bierly, of Chico, California, on February 20, 2024.

Margaret, born July 21, 1949, in Sacramento, California, to Willard and Marian Bierly, moved with her family to the Bay Area in 1956. In high school, Margaret was selected as a Wendy Ward Pacesetter, which led her to work as a fashion model at Montgomery Ward while attending Berkeley’s Presentation High School. Graduating in 1967, she enrolled in San Jose State University, funding her studies through part-time modeling. In 1971, Margaret earned her B.A. and continued her education at Stanford University on a full scholarship. She completed her Ph.D. in Education Psychology, with an emphasis in developmental psycholinguistics and teaching effectiveness in 1975.

After a short term on the faculty at Arizona State University, Dr. Bierly found her true home at California State University, Chico, where she was a professor in the Psychology Department for more than 40 years. At Chico State she became “my favorite teacher” to thousands of students. Renowned for her dedication, she devoted tireless hours to mentoring students and she chaired more than 70 master’s theses and served on more than 150 committees.

Margaret was a creative, collegial researcher, producing more than 50 publications and presentations, and she collaborated on research with colleagues both within and outside her department. She and her frequent collaborator and co-author in the College of Business, investigated gender differences in career progression strategies used by men and women, and the ways in which men and women judge the competence of male and female political candidates.

In addition to her professional achievements, she is remembered as gracious and kind, caring deeply about her family, friends, neighbors, and students. First and foremost, Margaret was devoted to her family. She found boundless joy in the birth of her son, Michael Wagstaff. She loved Mike more than anyone else in her universe and did everything possible to make him happy. She was a doting daughter, a loving sister and aunt, and an incredible friend. Her loving demeanor was not limited to people. Her canine kids, Studley, Alexandra and Audrey, and Alice the tortoise, were showered with affection.

Margaret was preceded in death by her parents and ex-husband Tom Wagstaff. She leaves behind her beloved son, Mike Wagstaff, sister Jane Johnson, nephew Eric, and his wife Tracy Johnson, niece Natalie Johnson, great nephews Tyler, Matthew and Benjamin Johnson and special cousin William (Billy) Bierly.

A celebration of life is planned at the lakeside pavilion in Chico California on April 21st from 1:30 PM - 4:30 PM, offering family and friends an opportunity to reminisce and honor her legacy. All who knew her are invited to attend. 

Margaret’s presence will be deeply missed, but her legacy of kindness and academic excellence will forever illuminate our lives. May her memory be a blessing to all who were privileged to know her.

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A Memorial Tree was planted for Margaret
We are deeply sorry for your loss ~ the staff at Brusie Funeral Home
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