Have You Met?

Maggie Wilde has a knack for focusing on the positive. She is one of those rare people that, despite tragic events, manages to maintain a genuinely optimistic, giving and humorous outlook on life.

Just before her wedding day three years ago, her fiancé John passed away suddenly of a brain hemorrhage at age 41. Although dealing with this tragedy, along with the added sorrow of losing several friends in the World Trade Center bombings, has been difficult, Maggie plows on and continues to be a powerhouse when it comes to philanthropic endeavors and the concept of giving back to her community.

Maggie credits her volunteer work and the friends she’s made through it for helping her get through tough times. “Deal with life or jump off a bridge.” She says, “And surround yourself with people who honor your experiences. That’s why volunteer work is so important; I’m not sitting in a room feeling sorry for myself. My life revolves around art and music and the people who love those things. The grief of losing people I have loved is always there, but so is the joy of what those people have brought to me.”

Maggie grew up one of six children in New York City, and got married to her first husband just out of college. She was a self-described career girl as a marketing rep for IBM, when she and her then husband moved to Northern California and she took three months off. “It was during this time I started volunteering,” she says, “and I never looked back.”

She first became involved with the AIDS Foundation in San Francisco, in the mid 1980’s when AIDS was just starting to emerge, but was hitting the city hard. “When I started volunteering at the AIDS Foundation in San Francisco which at the time was more of a marketing and educational program, I didn’t know anything about AIDS, no one really did. I just knew it was a huge social crisis so I got involved. What I didn’t take into account was that my co-workers and fellow volunteers were mostly gay men with AIDS, who didn’t have long to live, and it totally changed my life.”

During this time, Maggie established deep and meaningful friendships with her co-workers and learned many life lessons she carries with her today. Since then, she has continued to play a huge role in several non-profit organizations from AIDS to art to handicapped children to raising guide dogs for the blind.

Maggie has always had a love of the absurd and when she got divorced, she also decided it was time to change her name. “ I was in Dublin and I walked into the Dublin Writers Museum and there was a huge bust of Oscar Wilde, who I have always loved for his sense of humor. I have never really seen myself as a Margaret and as I looked at this sculpture, I though ‘Hmmm, Maggie Wilde, I like that. So I changed Margaret to Maggie and added on the Wilde.

Maggie lives and works in Boulder and spends as much time as she can traveling to Australia, her favorite place on earth. Her home is filled with Australian artwork, books and artifacts as well as an incredible collection of modern art.

Favorite Clothing Stores: I spend each winter in Australia and I get there in January just as all the sales are happening and the exchange rate is great so I just fill up my suitcases. I buy all of my special event and dress wear at a shop in Greenwich, CT called Razook’s.

What gives a woman/man style: Confidence gives you style whether you’re wearing torn jeans or Channel.

Favorite Restaurant: Q’s in the Boulderado Hotel.

Which social event is your favorite? The Boulder County Aids Project Annual Dinner on October 6th, the Dairy Center for the Arts Nuts and Bolts party, or whatever party I’m having at my home. I love entertaining in my own home and have a lot for fundraisers here, from girls nights out to wine tastings to small dinner parties.

What are your volunteer activities? I’m on the Board of the Boulder County AIDS Project, the Dairy Center For The Arts, Open Studios, Meals on Wheels, the Nomad Theater. I’ve been involved for many years with Ad-In, a private foundation in New York that works with inner city youth. I raise guide dogs for the blind and have a little sister through Big Brothers/ Big Sisters of Denver. I also volunteer with the Expand Program in Boulder and take young adults with developmental disabilities to sporting events.

Who is the most interesting celebrity you ever met? This is hard because unfortunately I have to say O.J. Simpson. I certainly don’t have the respect for him I did back then when we both attended USC. I thought he was great and saw him as a man who had incredible success, a man whose athletic prowess took him to the heights of fame. But he ended up becoming someone who pulled themselves up then did themselves in, and that’s what interesting about him.

Who is your hero? Why? A man I met in the late 80’s who I knew for 18 months before he died named George Valdez. He died of AIDS. He knew he was going to die within two years and the way he was living his life was amazing. He taught me how to live life with grace and dignity and some amazing lessons, like how to never compare yourself with others, to deal with what life has given you and that humor can override just about anything

If your life were a movie, who would play your part? Candace Bergen or Susan Sarandon.

When you move, what will your home tell its next owner, about you? That there is an incredibly good energy here. The people who have come here have brought a lot of joy, laughter and fun.

What one word would you use to describe yourself: Empathetic

What word would you like others to use to describe you? Sincere

What was your first job? I was a busgirl at a restaurant in New York at age 15.

If there were one thing you would change about yourself, what would it be? I don’t know, I like myself - not that I’m perfect, but I’ve accepted my foibles.

What is your greatest indulgence? Red wine and chocolate

What or who is the greatest love of your life? John, my fiancé who passed away suddenly three years ago, right before our wedding, of a brain hemorrhage

Which talent would you most like to have? I’d love to be able to sing.

What is your current state of mind? Very happy and excited, full of anticipation and optimism about the future.

What do you consider your greatest achievement? I received the Volunteer Of The Year Award at the San Francisco AIDS foundation in 1989.

What is your most treasured possession? I’m not a very possession oriented person, but probably the engagement ring John gave me.

What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery? Losing someone you love

What is the quality you most like in a man? Sense of Humor

What is the quality you most like in a woman? Same

What are some of your favorite books and writers? I love pretty much anything by Toni Morrison, biographies, (I’m currently reading Nixon’s “Arrogance of Power” and Joe DiMaggio’s biography), Bill Bryson travel books and David Sedaris because he has such an ironic sense of humor and a great eye for the absurd.

What is the best advice you have ever received? I got a fortune cookie once that read, “There is no grief that time does not lessen and soften.”

What is your motto? It’s from a Jimmy Buffet song “Some of it’s magic and some of it’s tragic but I had a good life all the way” and the other is Oscar Wilde, who I named myself after I got divorced, and he once said, “I can’t resist anything except temptation.”