Peggy A. Patrick
West Des Moines
Peggy A. Patrick, 90, passed away October 8, 2013, at Bickford Cottage in West Des Moines where she had been a resident for the last two and one-half years. Peggy's body has been donated for research to the University of Iowa Medical School. Services honoring her life will be held at the Des Moines Art Center in the spring.
Peggy was born on April 20, 1923 in Pittsburgh, PA to Selma (Brambach) and Herbert M. Kirkham. After high school graduation, she attended the University of Illinois, School of Architecture. She married Joe R. Patrick in July 1943 and the union was blessed with three children, Kathy, Kirk and Kent. They divorced in 1974.
Peggy moved to Des Moines in 1948, just three months after the opening of the Des Moines Art Center. Sensing that this was where she belonged, she immediately began volunteering and beginning in 1950, worked in the Education Department teaching art classes for children and adults. She introduced generations of children to art. Her puppetry class was legendary. In 1965, she was named Assistant Director of Education. In 1971, Director Jim Demetrion appointed Peggy to the position of Assistant Director, a role in which she served until 1985. Throughout her career, Peggy was involved behind the scenes organizing exhibitions; she cared for the Permanent Collections; she wrote and designed Art Center exhibition catalogues, the Des Moines Art Center bulletins, and other publications; she helped create the Junior Art Museum exhibits; she taught the docents and did public relations. Thanks to her work on the Art Center's landmark Giorgio Morandi retrospective exhibition (held in Des Moines, San Francisco and New York in 1981-82) the Italian government invited her to spend three months as a visiting museum professional at Milan's Pinocateca del Brera museum. Beloved by the Des Moines arts supporters and statewide arts community and perceived as the public face of the Art Center, she coordinated Members Council, Art in the Park, openings, trips, the annual Holiday Open House, concerts, and development events including galas and the Arts and Ends sales. Many of the young people she introduced to art grew up to be artists, architects, appreciators, and supporters of the arts. A friend and mentor for many of Iowa's artists and community activists, she maintained a wide range of friendships in the art world. Using her architectural training, Peggy oversaw the construction of the new Richard Meier-designed wing of the Des Moines Art Center, which opened in 1985. She served as interim director of the Des Moines Art Center in 1985-86, and retired in May 1986. Peggy was the first former staff member named an Honorary Trustee of the Edmundson Art Foundation. She was a Member of the Iowa Arts Council for many years, a Board Member of Iowa Museums Association and Vice-President of Midwest Museums Association.
After her retirement from the Art Center she joined the Peace Corps in 1986 and was sent to Sierra Leone, West Africa where she spent a year teaching in a remote village. Peggy enjoyed arts related trips around the world, including museums in over 15 European countries as well as Russia, China and Egypt. She was a member of an archeological "dig" in Tel Hallif, Israel. After retirement she also greatly enjoyed being an "elf" in the workshop at Sticks, a local craft and furniture shop started by one of her many art mentees.
She is survived by her children, Kirk A. (Sue) Patrick of Los Angeles, CA, Dr. Kent M. Patrick of Yankton, SD; grandchildren, Scott P. Murphy of Los Angeles, CA, Michael J. Murphy of Bozeman, MT, Christopher T. (Heidi) Patrick of Denver, CO, and Robert A. Patrick of Brooklyn, NY; great-grandchildren, Ava Quinn Murphy of Los Angeles, CA, Mia Celeste Patrick of Denver, CO, and Wesley Reid Patrick of Denver, CO; and son-in-law, Thomas R. Murphy of Venice, FL. Peggy was preceded in death by her parents; and daughter, Kathy M. Murphy.
Memorial contributions may be directed in her name to The Des Moines Art Center. Online condolences may be expressed at www.HamiltonsFuneralHome.com