Peggy’s Story: A Lighthouse of God’s Love

Aug 16, 2022 | by Deann Davidson

Peggy will always be remembered as a beloved volunteer and faithful member of The Salvation Army of Oak Creek. Before her passing in early 2022, Peggy found herself from serving in The Salvation Army, to being served, only to serve again.

Peggy’s journey with The Salvation Army began when he and her husband served as Envoys, a non-commissioned officer who works for The Salvation Army in a ministry position, for The Salvation Army at Harbor Light in Minneapolis, Minn.

Captain Dana Bigelow of the Oak Creek Corps, where Peggy was a member for 18 years, said Peggy’s life before becoming part of The Salvation Army wasn’t always easy.

“She came from a life of destruction,” she said, “She would tell stories of how she was so far in darkness and sin and doing her own thing that she didn’t really have the light of Christ in her. It was at that Salvation Army where she discovered the light.”

However, after the death of her husband, Bigelow said that Peggy had slipped back into the darkness she knew before The Salvation Army and lost her connections with Jesus. It was then that Peggy’s daughter helped her move into Booth Manor, a subsidized housing facility for older adults, at The Salvation Army of Oak Creek, which brought her back to The Salvation Army.

When she first arrived at Booth Manor, Bigelow said she was quiet and kept to herself. Eventually, Peggy decided to come over to The Salvation Army Oak Creek for a Sunday service, where she met so many wonderful people was welcomed with a warm embrace from one of the Salvationists. It was there that Bigelow said Peggy felt right at home.

“From then on, she wanted to make sure that everybody who entered The Salvation Army’s door, whether it was Booth Manor or any Salvation Army, that they would have that same embrace, that same welcoming, and that they would experience that same light of Christ that she had in her life,” Bigelow said.

This light is what brought about Peggy’s love of lighthouses. She donated lighthouse figurines that can be found throughout Booth Manor and serve as a reminder of Christ’s light shining through all of us.

After joining the church, Peggy began to serve once again, this time through volunteering rather than employment. Bigelow said that Peggy volunteered at The Salvation Army of Oak Creek in every capacity she could. She oversaw the kettle counters for 15 years and volunteered at the reception desk for 10 years until her hearing began to limit her. She also helped with the Children’s University program, which is the Oak Creek Corps children’s program that includes summer camps and after school care. Bigelow said that many of the kids and adults who were part of the program still call her “Grandma Peggy.” Peggy was also able to bring in other volunteers to The Salvation Army and have them experience a place that felt like home where they could give back to their community.

Bigelow said that Peggy was an important and beloved part of The Salvation Army community at both Booth Manor and the Oak Creek Corps. In addition to all her volunteer work, she was part of the Beginner Brass Band and was learning to play the cornet. Peggy was not a good musician and even admitted this herself, however, Bigelow said, “She had such a sparkle, such a joy about her, that it didn’t even matter.” Everyone enjoyed having Peggy in the band because of the love of Christ and the light that came from her.

Shortly before her sudden death, Peggy was found in her room at Booth Manor after she had fallen. She was admitted into the hospital where it was discovered that she was suffering from not only COVID-19 but also from previously undiagnosed Stage IV cancer. Due to restrictions, it took some time before Captain Bigelow was able to enter Peggy’s room and be with her on the day that Peggy was promoted to glory.

“That was really hard on everyone because she was one of the pillars of The Salvation Army and Booth Manor,” Bigelow said.

Peggy’s funeral was held at The Salvation Army of Oak Creek. The following week, more than 100 people gathered to celebrate her life and service to The Salvation Army.

Peggy gave so much to The Salvation Army, and in return, she received even more. Peggy found a home that extended beyond four walls, hope that stronger than all circumstance, and love beyond compare.

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