Obituary of Matt Groening’s mother reveals inspirations for The Simpsons

The origins of the show's characters are drawn clearly from the creator's family

There may be no family member called Comic Book Guy, but an obituary of Matt Groening’s mother, written by The Simpsons creator himself, has revealed a remarkable who’s who of inspirations for Springfield’s characters.


The piece, published in The Oregonian this week, was devoted to Margaret Ruth Groening, who died at the end of April at the age of 94 and is the namesake of the show’s iconic mother, Marge Simpson. Other fan-pleasing nods, however, include that Margaret’s maiden name was “Wiggum”, Matt Groening’s dad is called Homer and two of his sisters provided the names of baby Maggie and Marge’s chain-smoking sister, Patty.  

Of course, it is no secret that Groening based the programme upon his family and “idyllic” upbringing. The creator has stated before that he named the Simpson’s hometown of Springfield, after Springfield, Oregon (he grew up in Portland, Oregon) and even lived on Evergreen Terrace, the address of the cartoon family.Still, it is quite poignant to get such a personal glimpse into the origins of these iconic characters.

The full text of the obituary is below.

Obituary: Margaret Ruth Groening, 94, Born 23 March 1919 died 22 April 2013:


“Born Margaret Wiggum on March 23, 1919, in Chisolm, Minnesota, Margaret was 94 years old. Margaret’s parents, Matt and Ingeborg Wiggum, met on the boat coming to America from Norway. They settled in Everett, Washington, where the paper mill “smelled like money,” and Matt worked as a machinist. As high school valedictorian and Miss Everett, Margaret’s highest honour was being named May Queen of Linfield College. She graduated from Linfield in 1941 and married classmate Homer Groening, whom she chose because he made her laugh the most. Margaret taught high school English before starting a family, and her love of language was apparent in the many Double-Crostics she completed (in ink). Margaret and Homer supported the Oregon Symphony, the Portland Trail Blazers and many local yarn shops (Margaret was a talented needlework artist). Besides Homer, Margaret was preceded in death by her oldest daughter, Patty, who died in January, 2013. She is survived by her brother, Arnold; her children, Mark, Matt, Lisa and Maggie; eight grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren. The family thanks the wonderful caregivers from Visiting Angels and the hospice nurses from Housecall Providers. Special appreciation also goes to loyal friend, Grace Clark.”