Margaret Lynn Overly My sister Margaret, aka Peggy, was born one year, four months and three days before me, on the 13th of December, 1953, in Kenedy, on solid Texas earth. Her life was a well-documented one, starting with a black and white photo with scalloped edges, dad cradling a bundle of blankets with a baby face and mom hovering over his right shoulder. There's a crinkled photo in my memory of toddler Peggy peering over our parents' shoulders to have a look at baby me, thus beginning my life of having a big sister looking over me. Soon enough we shared a brother and then a sister, but it was Peggy who reigned in the playpen. |
Peggy embraced the photos of our life, displaying them all over her home. Her walls display black and white Easter photos of us, sporting look-alike hats, matching homemade dresses and wicker baskets. Photos from the first days of school show us in catholic school uniforms, a snapped tie under a white shirt collar, saddle oxfords and ankle socks. First communions in long white dresses, white gloved hands holding a long gilt candle were duly recorded in front of the Our Lady of Refuge Church in Refugio.
Vacation photos of us four siblings show us lined up in chronological order in front of a Tradewinds pop-up camper. After a childhood of summer camping trips to many of the nation's national parks, it should surprise no one that Peggy's adult life encompassed the great outdoors. We have digital images of her long vigorous hikes in Big Bend and Great Britain, pictures of her sipping red wine from crystal stemware in front of a camp fire, and cradling an oar sitting in a kayak on a distant exotic shoreline near Bora Bora.
Peggy was a formidable sibling to follow. She excelled in everything-from memorizing the Latin catechism, singing beautifully in the school choir, writing in a beautiful classic penmanship. And she was an avid reader. She seemed rarely to study her lessons, opting instead to read fiction late into the night by flashlight. After graduating from O. Perry Walker High School in New Orleans she attended Southwestern University and majored in English literature.
The graduation photo was barely framed and hung on the wall before she enrolled in HBU while holding down a full time secretarial job at Gulf Oil. Armed with an MBA, she landed a position with Scientific Drilling and eventually became the VP of Finance. She retired in 2011 to battle her cancer, and travel with her longtime partner, John Barlow. Together they made the most of Peggy's final years. Indicative of their travels, within the four months prior to her death, she traveled to England, California, Caprock Canyon, Columbus, Ohio and Aberdeen, Scotland. In the small hours of April 13, 2014, Peggy slipped away peacefully in her home in Houston.
But despite the many photos we have of Peggy, they can't describe her charm, elegance, and honesty. They don't show her dignity and bravery under the most daunting of circumstances. Photos cannot describe her sense of humor, her guarded out-loud laughs, and her generosity. Her home entertaining, featuring gourmet food and fine wines, showcased her sense of elegance and style. She'll be joining her mother, Marjorie Morehead Overly, and her father, Robert Joseph Overly, with a fresh pedicure in a very flattering shade of red. She's left behind her partner, John Barlow; and her siblings, Mary Overly Davis, Charles Overly, and Patricia Overly Whitford with very large shoes to fill. She will be remembered fondly by her sister-in-law, Pam Cervenka Overly; and brother-in-law, Cliff Whitford; and by her niece, Sarah Katherine Davis; nephew, Robert Sean Overly; and John's children, James, Heidi and Amy.
The Salvation Army has been a recipient of Peggy's generosity for many years.
In lieu of customary remembrances, memorial contributions in her memory may be directed to The Salvation Army, 1500 Austin Street, Houston, Texas 77002.
Published in Houston Chronicle on Apr. 16, 2014