Margaret (Peggy) Pearse was born on March 24, 1925 in Utica, NY, and passed away of natural causes at Whatcom Hospice House on Sunday, October 4, in the presence of all three of her children. Peggy led a busy, challenging, and rewarding life, from enjoying pony rides at her Uncle Dick’s farm in upstate New York to honing her business, musical and artistic talents throughout her school years and beyond.
Peggy’s parents, Owen and Marie (Marian) Williams, of Cardiff, Wales, and Liverpool, England, respectively, arrived at Ellis Island in July, 1924, with little more than their suitcases and great hopes for their new lives in America. Two years after Peggy’s birth, her beloved sister Hilda was born.
Stories abound of Peggy’s natural intelligence and many abilities and accomplishments as a pianist, a singer, and an artist, as well as a superlative organizer and manager. Raised as a Presbyterian, Peggy’s soaring soprano voice graced both secular and Welsh sacred choral performances from her earliest years onward. She sailed through Utica Free Academy, excelling in Latin, literature, writing, speaking, mathematics and music, easily qualifying for college, but that was not to be. Peggy enrolled in business school, then went to work for the New York State Bell Telephone Company. The business and people skills she learned there would serve her well as her work experiences and expertise expanded throughout her life. As it turned out, Peggy excelled at everything she put her mind and energies to.
Peggy met Jim, the love of her life, on a blind date after he was discharged from the U.S. Marine Corps following the end of hostilities in the Pacific Theater. Married in 1947, they celebrated life and their family together for 57 years until Jim’s passing in 2004. As Jim’s employers transferred him from one job and city to the next, Peggy proved herself to be a superb hostess and executive’s spouse, even as she nurtured and encouraged her first two children, Stephen and Susan, to reach their own potential. Prior to the birth of their third child, Heather, in 1962, Peggy and Jim continued their odyssey, moving from New York State to Detroit, Michigan, and on to Seattle. Serving as Cub Scout Den mother, Brownies mom, homework supervisor, and orchestrator and encourager of music, art, and horseback riding lessons, Peggy saw to it that her children, whatever their potential might be, had every chance to live happily and well. And all along the way, Peggy cared for her own mother, giving her a home for over twenty years following the death of her father, Owen.
The great Boeing Recession in Seattle prompted Peggy and Jim to return to New York State in the early 1970s, where they purchased and operated a lakeside resort in need of a good deal of care and repair. Peggy worked the desk, organized the books, rode herd on those workers who most needed a bit of prodding, and fielded guest comments and requests in the professional, respectful but ’no nonsense’ way she always displayed with her colleagues, her bosses and the public. A few years later, Jim, Peggy and Heather moved back to the West Coast, where Peggy served as secretary to the principal of an Edmonds, WA junior high, then some years later as office manager for Lovell-Sauerland, an area survey/land development company. Peggy’s bosses and co-workers routinely referred to her as a quick study with a business-like approach that was always leavened by a bright smile, cheerful encouragement, and confidence in herself and others.
In retirement, Peggy reawakened her painting skills, joining the Artists of South Whidbey after she and Jim moved to Clinton, on Whidbey Island, overlooking Useless Bay. Following study with a number of local artists, Peggy began showing her work in competition, winning many ribbons for her vivid yet impressionistic paintings of island beaches, barns, flowers, and landscapes, finding time as well to volunteer for the South Whidbey Island Senior Center as well as read to local elementary school students.
Peggy is survived by her son, Stephen Pearse, (Sandra), their daughter Megan Harp (Ryan), and grandchildren Alex and Abby; her daughter Susan Zuck (George), grand-daughter Jennifer Martinson, great-grandson Maxson, great grand-daughter Zoé, step-grandson Christopher Zuck (Ashley), step-great grandchildren Grant and Goldie (Zuck), step-granddaughter Amanda Lacey (Ryan); her daughter Heather Soto (Fred), grandson Mitchell Saban, grand-daughters Nicolette Olson (Kyle), great-grandson Kasen, and Olivia Saban, step-children Brooke Soto, Jocelyn Torres, Cecilie and Joseph Marshall, and step great-grandchildren Hazel Siewert, Charleigh Soto, and Asher and Silas Torres, as well as extended family in Florida and New York.
Donations in memory of Margaret (Peggy) Pearse can be made to Whatcom Hospice House, Bellingham.