Eighth generation Vermonter, Pittsford resident, artist, educator, author, historian, mother, grandmother, friend: This does not begin to adequately describe the amazing person born at Proctor Hospital on Aug. 31, 1929 and died April 6, 2019. Between these dates was a life filled with constant learning and creativity.
At 5 years of age, the Great Depression took Peg’s family to New Hampshire following employment opportunities for her father, John Willard. She was filled with stories of how her mother, Isabel, helped out at home, raising their two daughters, Anne and Peggy, making all their clothes and keeping a large garden to help feed the family. As with most people who grew up and survived the Depression years, Peg developed habits of thrift, hard work and appreciation for life.
Her love of Pittsford was constantly fed by “back home” with grandparents on Blackberry Lane. “Gramp had an apple orchard, garden and made maple syrup by tapping trees in the woodlot. There were 150 hens in the barn and Mother sold eggs and also her own home baked bread.”
Gifted with an artistic flair, Peg went on to graduate cum laude from the University of New Hampshire with a fine arts degree. Among her many talents were designing and creating silver and enameled jewelry as well as teaching art in public schools. In Portsmouth, New Hampshire, she took a position as supervisor of education at the renowned Strawberry Banke Museum where she soon worked her way up to director. Retiring in 1996 she happily returned to the family home in Pittsford.
In Vermont and beyond, she was recognized as a superior silversmith and was often found teaching classes and giving demonstrations of her work. Many future silversmiths honed their skills under her tutelage.
History was a passion for Peg. Her time at Strawbery Banke taught her so much about the importance of preserving our heritage. She was a founding member and first president of the Pittsford Historical Society. Peg was instrumental in attracting people into the new organization and sharing her experiences in museum work.
Peg wrote “Around Pittsford,” a beautiful photographic history of the area. She also helped author “Pittsford’s Second Century,” an historical volume covering the years from 1872 to 1997. She was also a regular columnist for Rutland Business Journal and Prime Time.
Along the way she was somehow able to find time to work with town officials and others to secure Village Center status designation by the state of Vermont. She took her special abilities in dealing with people to Montpelier to help assure this important designation was achieved. Peg’s work was officially recognized by the Pittsford Select Board in 2007. Then on Feb. 16, 2011 her dedication and efforts were further recognized by the town in a ceremony dedicating that year’s town report to her.
Peggy’s love of Pittsford was always in her heart and mind. Even when her health started to fail she was spending time at the historical society’s museum helping identify newly acquired glass negatives from photographers of the town’s past. Her mind was sharp as it brought out her prodigious memories of Pittsford.
We at Pittsford Historical Society, along with her family and many friends will miss Margaret “Peggy” Armitage. However, she will never be far from us, for she has left an indelible imprint behind. We need only close our eyes and let her smile appear and her voice whisper in our ears.