OTEGO - Hers was not a face that launched a thousand ships. But sitting in the front row at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival in Ontario during "Romeo and Juliet," the sight of her legs stopped Christopher Walken in mid-speech.
Born in Springfield, Ohio, July 8, 1940, after her family's move to the Philadelphia area, when she was two years old, Peggy started full days of school at The School in Rose Valley, including woodshop.
Graduating from there she went on to George School and from there to Earlham College, finishing her formal education with a master's degree in history from the University of Chicago.
On her mother's side, she traced her genealogy back to Charlemagne and England's King Edward III, while her father was proudly Irish.
Her fondest childhood memories were her 12 years at Singing Eagle Lodge (SEL), an eight-week girls summer camp on Squam Lake, New Hampshire. SEL closed in 1966, and in 1973 she was the initiating and organizing force behind a huge camp reunion. Out of that Singing Eagle Lodge was reborn and continues to this day as a two-week girls camp.
In about 1970, she and her husband moved from New York City to 100 beautiful acres in the Oneonta area. Their daughter Celeste was born in 1971. While Celeste attended St. Mary's School, Peggy served as a volunteer in the office, ran the rummage sale and eventually became president of the PTO.
After Celeste graduated from St. Mary's, Peggy's volunteer efforts turned to Orpheus Theatre. Eventually, she became a paid member of the office staff, handling most of the administrative duties. Thanks to her organizational and fiscal talents, Orpheus had money in the bank when she left, a rare thing for a small, nonprofit arts organization.
Following daughter Celeste's untimely death in 2004, Peggy threw her energies into volunteering for Habitat for Humanity of Otsego County, working on 11 of the 33 houses HFHOC has built since 1989. While still building, she became HFHOC's office manager and was elected treasurer, never missing a chance to save a buck.
She excelled at spotting a mistake on a bill or a typo in a deed or report. At the worksite that eye for detail was a thorn in the side of her fellow volunteers. When she pointed out, say, a poorly spackled joint in the wallboard, Building Committee Chair Bruce Downie might grumble, "Margaret, go sit in your car!" before making sure it was fixed. Also in 2004, she and her husband took up hiking sections of the Appalachian Trail, completing almost 500 miles of it through parts of Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New York, Massachusetts, Vermont and New Hampshire.
In 1984 and 85, she and her husband completed the General Clinton Canoe Regatta's 70-mile endurance race in their canoe the Little Red Caboose.
The daughter of the late Walter and Mildred Hawxhurst Kahoe, Peggy was predeceased by her sister and by her daughter and very best friend, Celeste, who was taken much too young by metastatic melanoma.
Starting in college Peggy raised untold generations of guppy fish and later enjoyed the companionship of two dogs, a cat, her husband, and many friends.
Books were her life. She read about one a week, more than 3,000 in all, and kept a list. She was particularly fascinated by Robin Hood, in print, on film and TV. She edited and re-typed her husband's 50 plus books, most of them written before the days of personal computers. Through her tireless volunteer efforts, superb organizational skills and thoughtful, generous acts she touched innumerable lives and brightened the world. Because she preferred the background, people often underestimated her
In spite of her demure manner and Quaker upbringing, she very much enjoyed a good laugh, an occasional beer, and was heard to come out occasionally with a four-letter expletive, a message she also was seen to deliver silently but ambidextrously.
Cause of death was a brain tumor (glioblastoma).
She is survived by her husband of 47 years, Dennis.
Contributions in her memory to Habitat for Humanity of Otsego County, 403-B Chestnut St., Oneonta, NY 13820, will be gratefully accepted.
She donated her body to the Albany College of Medicine. A memorial service is being planned.
Published on August 10, 2017