To Brad Paluck, his mother epitomized the saying, “Behind every great man is a great woman.”

“Dad got a lot of credit for the business (Mt. Hood Cleaners and Laundry), but my mom worked side-by-side with him until the day he died,” Paluck says.

Margaret Paluck, a lifelong Sandy resident and co-founder of Mt. Hood Cleaners, died Tuesday, Oct. 23, at age 89.

“She’s the spoke in the wheel who kept our family together the last 27 years after my dad died,” daughter Carol Burns says.

Margaret Elizabeth Paluck was born Sept. 18, 1923, in Cottrell, to Margaret and William Breen. As a child, she and her older sisters were known as the “Red Head Breen Girls.”

She attended Cottrell Grade School and Sandy High School. Through her brother-in-law, Margaret met and started dating. Michael Paluck.

An entrepreneur, Michael contemplated starting a sugar beet farm in the Sandy area, but he noticed a need for drycleaning.

Michael and Margaret opened their business in 1943 on Pioneer Boulevard in the current Joe’s Donut building, where they took customers’ clothing to Gresham for cleaning and back to the Sandy store for pickup. The couple married in 1948.

“She worked so many hours and would be working long into the night but she’d show up to be room mother for us the next day at school,” Carol says. “If a child needed anything — money, a place to stay, a bed to sleep in, clothing, a jacket for the winter — they were taken care of; she was always there.”

Along with raising their six children, Michael and Margaret helped to raise other family members and friends of family, welcoming seven other children to live with them.

“I remember our house was always open,” Brad says. “Everyone was welcome and my mom had a rule that no one rang the door bell.”

When Michael became a city councilor and then mayor of Sandy from 1963 to 1968, Margaret was right there with him. She taught Sunday School at Pleasant Home Methodist Church and loved reading, playing cards and cooking.

First and foremost, her passion was her family, and she was known as the “true matriarch” of the family.

“She was a tough lady who always stood her ground,” longtime family friend Jerry Lawson says. “She was the backbone of the family.”

As Mt. Hood Cleaners evolved, it moved to Shelley Avenue and then its current location on Proctor Boulevard. Almost 70 years later, the business is still family owned and operated by Brad and Ken Paluck.

“Every once in a while, they’ll say, ‘Maybe it’s time to retire,’ ” Carol says of her brothers. “It just tugs at your heartstrings a bit — the business has been in the family so many years and we’re really proud of them.”

Brad says there’s one woman to credit: his mother.

“She was the hub of our family.”

Margaret is survived by her children, Ken Paluck, Penny McCarthy, Carol Burns, B.J. Brant, Gayle Paluck and Brad Paluck; nine grandchildren; and seven great-grandchildren.

A private graveside service was held by the family at Firhill Memorial Cemetery in Sandy.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions can be made to the volunteer guild at Legacy Mt. Hood Medical Center in care of Kaitlyn Morrell, volunteer services, 24800 S.E. Stark St., Gresham 97030.

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