Longtime Fox Chapel library volunteer steps down, stays active
Peggy McGowan is a nonagenarian, but the term — meaning she is in her 90s — doesn't hint at her vibrant nature or her wealth of memories.
Many know the active woman as a volunteer at the local library.
This summer, after more than 30 years of helping at the Cooper-Siegel Community Library and its earlier edition, Lauri Ann West, Peggy retired.
McGowan remembers the move from Lauri Ann West, which was in the former Boyd Elementary School along Powers Run Road in O'Hara to the new site along Fox Chapel Road in Fox Chapel.
She especially remembers unpacking the items for the children's library.
Seemingly endless boxes of books, she said, had to be shelved before the new library opened.
“I saw it grow, which was wonderful. At first, we didn't have many people, then, gosh, it got busy,” McGowan said.
During her volunteer days, McGowan kept busy with the nitty gritty duties of working at a library: manning the desk, shelving books and making sure the materials were organized correctly.
The staff respected Peggy's three decades of dedication, and the Fox Chapel matron enjoyed volunteering weekly.
“I like working with people and books,” she said. “They aren't dull. There is always something to talk about.”
In fact, before moving to Fox Chapel, McGowan owned a book store in Mt. Lebanon called the Bookmark.
“I loved it,” she said. “We went to the ABA (American Booksellers Association) meetings in Washington (D.C.).”
McGowan had the chance to hear authors such as David Eisenhower and John Chiardi during her volunteering days, and those are two of her favorite memories.
A visit with McGowan at her Berkshire home turns into an enjoyable trip down memory lane.
The house started as a “Fox box,” she said, meaning it was built like many others, in a square footprint with two floors.
On the back of her house is a family room addition filled with mementos of travel to Asia. The room also is packed with books.
Her first trip to Europe came in 1938, when she was a teenager.
She toured Berlin and christened a ship.
“I've been all over the world. I try to tell my children things I think they would be interested in,” she said.
In her office, where she uses her computer for a variety of activities, McGowan has a wall covered with family pictures.
McGowan, who moved to Fox Chapel in 1975, said she has two families, one by her first husband and another with her second husband.
She said she finds living in Pittsburgh to be fascinating — “the museum, the Frick. I try to do as many of those things as I can.”
She also enjoys keeping active.
McGowan said she tries to swim every day in the summer and bowls in a league.
Sharon Drake is a freelance writer for Trib Total Media.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Grant money to help UPMC St. Margaret fight youth obesity
- Workshop to help Etna, Millvale move toward solar energy
- Sharpsburg considers intern to help with borough business
- Sharpsburg North Canal Street fire investigation continues
- Sharpsburg appoints junior council member
- Shady Side Academy students pass knowledge on to others