“Hi Aaron, it’s Peggy. I hope that you’re well. I’ve been thinking about you and Alissa. I hope Aurora is treating you well. I just wanted to call and say that I’ve been thinking about you and I miss you guys and I’m just wondering what you’re up to. Give me a call back. Ok. Miss and love you both! Ok, give me a call back. Bye bye.”
That’s the last voicemail Peggy left for me and my wife.
But that was and is Peggy: A collection of powerful moments and enthusiastic stories. A quick voicemail and a simple note.
Not one story can capture all that Peggy did and all that she stood for.
Her voracious appetite for learning and sharing her knowledge with others was infectious.
Every time I saw her or talked to her, she made me feel as if I was the most important person in the world, and she was one of the best supporters of others that I’ve ever known.
Peggy was a project fireball and I had the pleasure to work on a Historic Preservation project with her for George W. Fisk (a violin maker in Greeley in the late 1800s and early 1900s who became world renowned as the “Stratovarius of the West.”
When I accepted Peggy’s invitation to work on this project and to be the selected violinist to play a Fisk Violin at the Historic Preservation Event, I had no idea the rigor that I was to encounter with Peggy at the helm.
I went to her office six weeks before the event to begin our work. Her office was an organized chaos - as always - and she invited me in with a big, “AARON! How are you? Great to see you. Come in, come in.” Followed by an enveloping hug.
As I sat next to Peggy’s desk, she started to explain the “game plan” and proceeded to hand me a 150 page binder of LEGAL sized paper.
My mouth dropped.
“Now, I know it looks like a lot, but it’s really not that much.” Proceeded Peggy, “It’s mainly article clippings and miscellaneous information that I found in our archives and online. I organized it chronologically for your convenience and if you could read it with notes by next week, that would be just fantastic! OH! And here’s the Fisk Violin.” She handed me an old violin case.
“It would be great if you could read through and make musical selections for your performance based on what might have actually been played when Mr. Fisk made these violins. We already know that Fisk became famous due to his work with Eduard Reményi. He was a famous violinist - WORLD FAMOUS - who was actually from Hungary and toured the U.S., coming through Greeley. So the story goes that… Well, you can read all about it. I think it’s on page 72. Here let me see…”
She grabbed the binder from my lap.
“AH YES! Page 72, here it is. You can read about that here. I printed the binder single sided so you can take notes. I found another article not in the binder online… Here, right this down for your reference later.”
I was overwhelmed. As a Junior at UNC, I already had a lot going on but I would do anything for Peggy because she would do anything for me. Not only would she do anything for me, she would do anything for anyone who needed help.
The Fisk Historic Preservation Program went well despite a historic flood hitting downtown and delaying the event. Peggy spoke about the historic significance of Fisk, and then cheered me on as I performed. She even let me bring in others such as Dr. Bellman, professor at UNC’s school of music who had a special interest in Eduard Reményi.
Peggy threw her entire force behind any project she was involved in, behind any person that needed encouragement, and behind any cause that needed energy.
Peggy taught me to speed read (still working on it), she gave my bluegrass band a chance to perform at Potato Day, she invited me to her table at the Community Foundation’s luncheon, and she met with and discussed the trials of cancer with my friend (who she did not know) after he was diagnosed with Hodgkin's Lymphoma - right after she beat cancer herself.
She always gave others opportunities and worked tirelessly to make a positive impact on our community.
My stories about Peggy are not unique to me but are common among those who knew her and also those who did not.
Greeley was founded on the principles set forth by Nathan Meeker, our city founder, who believed that, among others, education, cooperation, and family; were tenets that would build a flourishing community. With that, Peggy epitomized our town.
All the ways in which Peggy changed our community for the better will never be fully known, but her legacy will live on in those that she helped and in those that she inspired.
Submitted Aaron Zimola
- Peggy sought knowledge and enthusiastically educated others.
- Peggy cooperated with and cared for everyone.
- To Peggy, everyone was family.