After longtime Topeka activist Marge Heeney died June 25, her daughter, Mary, and close friend Lisa Boyd faced a conundrum: What should be done with her clothes?
Heeney, 91, the community’s “Hat Lady,” was known for her vibrant costumes and vast collection of signature hats. She began giving the hats away, however, when she and her husband, Barney, moved last year from the Kansan Towers downtown to Homestead Assisted Living.
With that in mind, the two women decided to share Marge’s costumes, too. At an event called Marge’s Closet, her many friends will be able to choose an ensemble or hat to keep.
“We wanted people to enjoy the clothes, and I know a lot of people have connected with her with the costumes that she’d wear, so we thought we’d spread the joy,” Mary Heeney said by phone. She lives in Mountain View, Calif.
Marge’s Closet will be 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 20, at Planting Peace’s Equality House, 1200 S.W. Orleans. According to the Facebook event created for Marge’s Closet, there will be no prices for the clothes, but those who are able are invited to make a donation to the Equality House.
Mary Heeney said her mom loved the Equality House and would show it off to people who were visiting Topeka. The rainbow-colored house serves as the resource center for Planting Peace’s human rights initiatives.
“She very much supported everything they do and was very proud of it,” she said.
Mary Heeney said that even though she is about the same size as her mother, it didn’t feel right to keep everything.
“They should stay in and around Topeka, where people have nice memories of her costumes,” she said.
About 100 ensembles and hats will be part of Marge’s Closet.
Mary Heeney recalled that as a teenager she was embarrassed that her mom stood out while she wanted to blend in. But she grew to appreciate her mom’s style and the way she was loved, she said.
Marge Heeney died seven weeks after the death of Barney, her husband of 60 years.
“They were fantastic parents, and I’m glad that they were both characters,” Mary Heeney said.
She said she and her three brothers will be in Topeka the weekend of Marge’s Closet as they prepare to view the total solar eclipse together — something the family had planned for several years on doing together.
Contact reporter Samantha Foster at (785) 295-1186 or @samfoster_ks on Twitter.