Across the last bridge

My parents were builders of bridges in so many ways. My father’s original poem merely laid the planks on top of what was already a solid foundation– and from there, the path stretched on and on. As my mother’s surviving sister reminded the family, the bridge still stands, it just now crosses a wider divide. Below you’ll read a little bit about my mother, Peggy, and perhaps understand why she stood as a shining example to us all. What appears below is the text of her published obituary.

Margaret Staats Pola

On March 27, Margaret “Peggy” Pola laid down the burdens of advanced aging and found peace. She was predeceased by her husband, Carlo A. Pola, and a sister, Jane Hall; she is survived by her sister, Barbara Wolfe, and nine children (Carlo W., Janeth Waggoner, Susan Tierney, Dianne, Nino, Leo, Lauri Hall, Velia and Tony) plus many grands and great-grands.

Peggy was born May 15, 1920 in Camden, NJ to Florence P. and William H. Staats. She was only a toddler when she took her first intercontinental voyage to South America during which her mother tied her to deck chairs to slow down her precocious child. The method was ineffective; Peggy simply dragged the chairs where she needed to go, an inkling of the energy and determination exhibited throughout her life. She rarely stopped moving in the 9+ decades since.

In 1927, Peggy’s family moved to Yokohama, Japan and in 1931, to Shanghai, China, where she attended the American School in Japan and then the Shanghai American School. On her return the States, she graduated at the top of her class from both her NJ high school and Drexel University, where she earned a degree in Home Economics.

An officer in one of the nation’s first WAVE units, Peggy trained at Smith College and served during WWII as a lieutenant/jg in Washington DC. It was there, in 1944, that she met and married Carlo before returning to Carlo’s home town of Sandwich, MA where they raised their family. Their union was uniquely blessed; they celebrated over 71 years of marriage before Carlo’s passing.

Community service was a mainstay of Peggy’s life. She was elected to the Sandwich School Committee for multiple terms, serving many years as chairperson. She was a founding member of Women in Military Service for America and belonged to the Americal Division Veterans Association and Reserve Officers Association. Peggy served as Sandwich Chairperson for the United Way, as a member of the Nursing Advisory Board and as a volunteer for Elder Affairs, the Sandwich Health Association and the Well-Child Conferences among other charitable organizations.

Peggy had an insatiable itch for travel and, with Carlo, wandered far and wide, first with their children and later as retirees. She had a passion for her family, nature and adventure and, most of all, for lifelong learning—though she drew the line at Windows 10. She never lost her mental acuity and announced, on the morning of the day of her death, that she had completed the cryptoquip, the jumble and the “Check your Knowledge” in the daily newspaper. She amassed a legion of friends on Facebook and considered her internet activity a lifeline when she could no longer physically travel. She will be missed by many.

Services 10:30 AM, April 19 at St. John’s Church, Sandwich, MA followed by a reception in the parish hall. Burial at Bourne National 2:30 PM. Donations in Peggy’s memory may be made to St. John’s Church in Sandwich or to the charity of one’s choice.

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