Obituary of Peggy Winnett (2022) – Leeds, MA


Leeds, MA – Peggy Winnett was born on October 16, 1933 in Evanston, Illinois. Peggy was one of five children and one of three adopted children of Margaret and James Glaser. Peggy’s first home was in Glenco, Illinois. When she was nine, her family moved to Pebble Beach, California, where she later graduated from high school. She attended college in Oakland, California and at the age of 20 married John W. Winnett. John had lived in France during World War II; At the end of the war he moved to Southern California where his grandfather welcomed him into his home. He soon began riding at the same equestrian center as Peggy; They met every weekend as friends and soon fell in love. They married on August 28, 1954.

John’s first job at an American Oil Company called CalTex took her to Columbo, Sri Lanka. Their home was fully staffed with domestic workers, and they quickly learned new and very different ways of life. None of the individuals were allowed to drive and therefore had to rely on a driver to get them around town. Peggy and John lived in Sri Lanka for two years.

Their first child, Laura, was born towards the end of her freshman year there. Peggy volunteered at the World Health Organization and supported a midwife who offered free birth control to women in the community. After two years they were transferred to Bombay, India for John’s work and completed another two-year tour there. Peggy immersed herself in Indian culture, taking Indian dance classes and performing to local audiences. After two years in India they returned to NY City and John left the oil company. John made a new life in NYC and began working on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. They lived in a suburb called Tuxedo Park and two more children were born, Sarah and John.

In 1972 the family traveled to Munich, Germany with Peggy’s husband John, where he competed as a member of the US Equestrian Dressage Team. Peggy’s work raising the children was soon over and it was time to focus on new goals and pursuits. Peggy used to joke, “When my kids grew up and left home, so did I!”

After 23 years, Peggy left her marriage and moved to San Francisco, closer to her childhood home, and began working towards completing her college degree. She earned a BA in Sociology and an MA in International Relations and joined the Peace Corps after graduating. Soon back on the road with the Peace Corps, she traveled to Jacks Hill, Jamaica, and turned 50 in her first year there. She was an integral part of organizing a new community center, creating committees to support funding, securing phone lines, and other things necessary for the center to operate. Peggy loved her time in the Peace Corps – she thought it was good work, she met good colleagues and other volunteers made it an extraordinary experience for her.

After two years in Jamaica, she returned to California and began studying psychology, but gave it up because she felt it would take too long. At that time, she rejoined the Peace Corps, which sent her to Lampang, Thailand. There she worked for a civil service agency of the Thai government helping to maintain teaching materials in pre-schools provided by the United Nations. While Peggy was working in Thailand, she ran a side project teaching Thai officials to improve their spoken English.

Peggy was a natural at teaching English, so she returned to San Francisco after the Peace Corps and earned a certificate to teach English as a second language. After completing the certificate to teach ESL, Peggy went to an appointment at the Chinese Consulate and asked for job offers at universities in China. From her list of opportunities, Peggy took a job at Guangzhou Foreign Language University. There she was 60 years old. For three semesters she taught English courses at all levels. She stayed for a third trimester to do teacher training and teach Chinese high school teachers how to teach English in their classrooms.

At the age of 62, Peggy returned to the United States and chose to transition into retirement. She began work on a book based on her teaching experiences in China. She was halfway through writing when she experienced the onset of heart disease. She moved to Massachusetts in 2000 to be closer to family and friends and has been a happy Leeds resident for 21 years. Locally, she was a longtime member of LIR (Learning in Retirement), the Florence Poets Society, and enjoyed writing and reading poetry. Her daughter Sarah lives in Florence, her son lives in Reno, Nevada and daughter Laura is deceased. Peggy was grateful for the chance to see so much of the world. It was a lifetime dream to see a lot of the world, and she was allowed to live it. Quote by the poet Jim Harrison: “Death steals everything but your stories”. All services will be private and for family convenience. For online condolences, please go to CZELUSNIAKFUNERALHOME.COM

Published by the Daily Hampshire Gazette on 21 February 2022.

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