Obituary for Peggy McKendry (O'Brien)
(nee O'Brien) Transcended this existence on November 14, 2017, joining her parents Donald Frederick O’Brien and Gladys Louise O’Brien née Warren. Peggy was born on April 1, 1943 in Ripon, Wisconsin, during her favorite season, the time of “spring lace.” She lives on through her siblings Sherry (Del), Cody, Kelly (Kim), Cindy (Tom), and Tracy (Sue), her husband Bradford Ernest McKendry, her children Bonnie (Bryan), Lance (Betsy), Brice (Nicole) and Becky (Ryan), four grandchildren, many nieces, nephews, cousins, brothers-and-sisters-in-law and their descendants.
Peggy had an idyllic childhood, growing up surrounded by a loving family. Her father Donald was a talented journalist and photographer; the family photos he created are masterpieces, preserving the legacy of love that was so apparent in the O’Brien family. Peggy valued that legacy deeply and her many precious memories guided her as she carried that love forward. Peggy’s mother Gladys was born to be a mother to many, raising her six children and running a day care from her home. Gladys always had a smile on her face and approached life with joyful exuberance; it was very important to Peggy that she honor the memory of her mother and father and impart their values and unique qualities upon her own children.
It was fitting, then, that Peggy graduated from UW-Oshkosh in 1965, known then as Wisconsin State University - Oshkosh, with a degree in Education. Peggy taught at Washington Elementary School in Cudahy for 3 years; she married Bradford McKendry on August 12, 1967 and eventually transitioned to being a full-time wife, mother and homemaker, a role in which she excelled and took great pride. Peggy and Brad celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary this year and spent many wonderful years raising their four children and living the dream of loving and being loved.
Peggy and Brad were familiar figures in the South Milwaukee community; they attended many parent teacher conferences, sporting events, recitals, school plays and concerts together in support of their own children as well as the South Milwaukee Public Schools. Peggy and Brad also attended and supported many cultural events and venues in the Milwaukee area including local theater productions, the symphony, the ballet, and the many festivals hosted in our vibrant Metro Milwaukee area. Peggy had a special fondness for Irish Fest, as she identified strongly with her Irish heritage; she was a recognizable icon as she strolled through Festival Park in her elaborate Irish themed dresses which greatly enhanced the event for herself and others. Peggy took daily walks, enjoying the birds singing and the fragrance of the trees and flowers.
One of Peggy’s favorite things to do was to keep well honored traditions alive during every holiday and season. Her festive décor and meals were epic; she and Brad arranged creative family Christmas card photos to mark each year before this tradition was in vogue, and Peggy made sure her children experienced the magic, wonder and awe so particular to childhood. Peggy herself remained pure of heart, staying positive and fiercely defending the values and ideals she held sacred. She never lost heart, and represented the best of us; she was a living embodiment of belief in one’s self to look to when doubt or fear crept in.
Peggy will be remembered as the sun we all orbited. Her devotion to the arts, beauty, culture, education, gardening, history, holidays, nature, order, traditions, travel, and above all, family, will remain with us always. From her husband and children to her gardens, handcrafted dresses, famous raspberry pies and beautiful home, she tended everything in her life with reverence and care, and did not waver in her purpose. The sun does not need permission to be itself, and neither did she. Peggy knew who she was and inhabited that fully. She is the center that holds us, a force of nature, a reminder to take care, take care, gather ye rosebuds while ye may…Here’s to you Peggy; our time with you was too short—but it was bright and beautiful and breathtaking to behold. May the birds be always singing and the flowers turning their faces to greet you.
Visitation will be held at Molthen-Bell Funeral Home, 700 Milwaukee Avenue, South Milwaukee, Wisconsin on November 21, 2017 from 4:00-6:00 pm. Peggy would have approved of anyone wearing a touch of pink in honor of her favorite color. In keeping with Peggy’s wishes, private memorial services will be held at a later date. In lieu of flowers, please donate to the education and welfare of children, the preservation of our natural resources, institutions of higher learning, the United Performing Arts Fund, medical research racing to find a cure for Alzheimer’s and Dementia, or a charity near and dear to your own heart. The family would like to extend their gratitude to the Seasons Hospice team including Kathy, Tamra, Jeanine and Renee as well as caregiver Egi.