Margaret “Peggie” Hillegass, 77

Barrington, R.I.

Margaret “Peggie” Hillegass (May), died peacefully at home on Sunday, April 28. She leaves behind her husband, Ronald Carl Hillegass and her two sons, Ronald “Carl” Hillegass, Jr. of Stonington, Conn. and Michael George Hillegass of Washington, D.C. She was preceded in death by her son Kent Field Hillegass and her brother Theodore “Teddy” May.

Born in the Bronx in New York City on June 4, 1941, to Sarah Hawthorne May and Theodore Merritt May, Peggie moved to Valley Cottage near Nyack, New York at the age of nine. She enjoyed spending her summers at Mayfield, their family farm in Newberg, N.Y., and at Lake Pleasant in Speculator, N.Y. in the Adirondack mountains.

Possessing an early love of horses, she enjoyed reading Black Beauty novels and riding in Central Park. She attended Nyack High School, where she starred on the basketball team and was nicknamed “The Windmill.” Peggie matriculated to Wells College in Aurora, N.Y., where she developed her interests in art and music, becoming a talented guitarist.

After her freshman year in college, she worked in Chatham, Mass., where she met her future husband, Ronald. They were subsequently engaged her senior year and married on June 16, 1963 in Valley Cottage, only a few weeks after being named Wells’ May Queen.

Peggie, a first-grade teacher, was the couple’s breadwinner while Ron was in medical school in Philadelphia at the University of Pennsylvania. After his internship at Penn, the couple moved to Landstuhl, Germany with the Army. While there, she taught first and second grade and served on several service committees. She also traveled and skied extensively.

Peggie and Ron moved to Pittsburgh in 1968. She entertained friends and children by playing the guitar and was active in the art community, winning numerous prizes for her talent.

In 1973, Peggie and her family moved to Barrington, R.I., where she would make a warm and loving home for the rest of her life.

In Barrington, Peggie became active in St. John’s Episcopal Church, where she served as a co-founder of the Children’s Chapel. She was a Den Mother for her sons’ Cub Scout troup, and served as a docent at the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) Museum.

Peggie was elected to Barrington Town Council and was selected to run for Secretary of State, but she declined due to her desire to be a full-time mother. She was known by her children and their friends as “Marshmallow Mom” for her soft disposition.

Peggie became very active in the sailing community at the Barrington Yacht Club (BYC). She was a co-owner of a ship’s chandlery, The Boat Barn, and was active on the BYC Race Committee. She maintained her family’s Cal 34 sailboat, Tigress. Peggie was an avid windsurfer, and she spent a great deal of time with the boys and their friends water skiing off “ski beach” in the Barrington River. Summers were spent sailing through the islands of southeastern New England; winters were spent skiing at Waterville Valley Resort, in New Hampshire.

Peggie played tennis on Tuesdays and Thursdays, attended art classes at the Providence Art Club on Wednesdays, and skied from Friday through Monday for nearly 20 years. Peggie also loved to garden, maintaining beautiful flower and vegetable gardens. She was involved in the Barrington Garden Club, the Handicraft Club, Rhode Island Country Club and Barrington Yacht Club. Peggie will be remembered not only as a Renaissance person but, more importantly, as a wonderful friend, grandmother, mother and wife.

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