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Margaret Gerety

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Margaret Gerety Obituary
Gerety, Margaret (Peggy) Helen

Margaret (Peggy) Helen Gerety passed away on February 9th, 2017, three days after her 94th birthday. She left this life in her North Valley home of the last four decades, in the company of many members of her family, her dog Lilly, and her wonderful caregivers.

Peggy Schneider was born on February 6, 1923, in Joliet, Illinois, the only child of Frederick Roberts Schneider and Helen Cecilia (Riley) Schneider. Her father's work as a machinist with Burroughs Equipment Company provided the family a good living through the depression years and took the family to nearly every corner of the country during Peggy's childhood: they lived in Joliet and Chicago, Illinois; Albany, New York; Bridgeport, Connecticut; Kalamazoo, Michigan; Reno, Nevada; and Los Angeles, California. The frequent moves made Peggy the perennial "newcomer," and intensified her natural love of animals, with the family dog becoming, in her words, her "constant companion and closest friend." Wherever they roamed, the Schneider family also spent time exploring the great outdoorsâ€"hunting, fishing, clamming, birding, and camping. The love of nature that these expeditions inspired stayed with Peggy until the very end, when she still spent hours sitting outside, admiring the perfect New Mexican weather and the mountain view from her home.

She learned to ride horses, in Connecticut when she was thirteen. In high school, living in Reno, she got her own horse, Comanche, and learned the pleasure of Western riding in open spaces. By the time Peggy graduated from Reno High School in 1940, she was an expert horsewoman. She spent the next few years breaking the hearts of many young suitors while working as a bookkeeper for a local drug store. Then, as war broke out around the world, Peggy decided to forge her own path and at age 20, became the youngest woman from Nevada to enlist in the Marine Corps. On December 27, 1943, she went on to became the youngest female officer commissioned in the Corps. It was while stationed at Camp Pendleton in Oceanside, California that, in the Spring of 1944, she met her best and last suitorâ€"a handsome young fighter pilot from Shelton, Connecticut. Lt. Edward Joseph Gerety (Peggy called him simply "Gerety" in her letters to him during their courtship) won Peggy over with his Irish charmâ€"and an airplane ride or twoâ€"and on September 4, 1945, Peggy married her handsome pilot at the Camp Pendleton chapel. They were both in full uniform.

After leaving the Marine Corps, Peggy moved, now as Mrs. Peggy Gerety, to Fairfield, Connecticut. There she managed to navigate not only her new marriage, but Ed's seven brothers and large extended family. During this transition, she relied onâ€"and enjoyed the company and support ofâ€"her new mother- and sisters-in-law. While living with Ed's parents, they started their family and life together, and Ed returned to the construction business. He built their first house on Beach Road, where they lived, accumulating three sons (Edward Jr., Michael, and Richard) while Ed started back to college in preparation for medical school. Peggy also took college courses, in part to learn, and in part so her GI bill fund could help support the family. By the time Ed was done with medical school, they had two other children (Meghan and Mark), and two more (Moira and Brigid) came shortly afterâ€"bringing their grand total to seven children.

After discovering that he couldn't sustain his family on the salary of a family physician, Ed moved Peggy and kids to New Mexico for a surgical residency that would bring more financial security to the family. Peggy initially resisted yet another move; the family had already moved once to Bethesda, Maryland briefly for Ed's medical training, and then back to Fairfield. In the end, though, Peggy agreed to make their new home in Albuquerque, where she and Ed lived until the end of their lives.

Peggy lived life to the fullest. After moving to Albuquerque, she returned to school to study Art History. She volunteered for the League of Women Voters, working on water and land issues in New Mexico. After she and Ed could finally build their dream house with stables in 1969, she returned to her roots as a horsewoman, becoming one of the founding members of the Juan Tomas Hounds, and riding regularly into her 80s. She learned to ski at Sandia Peak and skied into her 80s. She played tennis. She swam. She hiked. She was always ready to go and always enjoyed herself, making many fast friends in the over 50 years she spent in Albuquerque, and continuing friendships with many more from the different parts of her life. Those lucky enough to count Peggy as a friend invariably felt better for the experience, something they demonstrated by keeping in touch throughout their lives. Indeed, Peggy was the last survivor of a group of eight friends, the "D8," that started when she was in 8th grade and kept in touch for over eight decades.

Peggy taught her children how to live life with poise and strength. She shouldered life's burdens with quiet determination, taking care of obligationsâ€""first things first"â€"but always leaving enough time to hit the slopes, go on the hunt, meet up with friends, and then go home to read a good book. Her resolve to "go for it" in whatever she did was infectious, and she intentionally infected her children with that resolve, pushing them to stay active and engagedâ€"whether playing at Fairfield Beach, visiting local libraries and museums; taking music lessons, horseback rides, and ski trips; or traveling with the family to Mexico. Peggy also modeled healthy living for her children far before it became a widespread trend, and in many ways she was well ahead of her times. She insisted on natural childbirth with six of her seven children, and rode her exercise bicycle at home until she was 92. She knew how to have only one can of Tecate and one chocolate (and only with a square meal), keeping herself healthy enough to enjoy life for more than 9 decades.

Peggy felt strongly that her children should all have the physical, mental, and social skills to be successful and happy in life, and gave them both the opportunities to learn, and the space to test themselves. Most of them ended up with some bruises, but Peggy's legacy lives on in their ability to handle the sometimes unpleasant vagaries of lifeâ€"sometimes with calm resolve, but sometimes with the gritty determination to be the last one standing when push comes to shove. And perhaps most importantly, Peggy taught them the importance of enjoying life beyond work. First things first, but always take the time for fun things after that.

Peggy is predeceased by her husband of 67 years, who passed away in September 2012. Her "Gerety" marveled until his death that she was the best thing that ever happened to him. She is survived by her seven children, twenty-four grandchildren, and twenty-four great-grandchildren: son, Edward Gerety Jr., a small businessman in Albuquerque; son, Michael Gerety, geophysicist and artist, of Provence, France; Magi Gerety; their children Ryan and Jessica (with her sons Adam and Liam); son, Richard Gerety MD and his wife Lynn Longfield MD, of Albuquerque; their children Patrick (with his daughter Maeve), Christopher (with his sons Leo and Aaron), Peter, and Matthew; daughter, Meghan Gerety MD and her husband John Alberts, of Austin; their children Shannon (with her children David and Michaela), Joseph, Sam, and Hannah; son, M. Colin Gerety, a small businessman, and wife Sarah Fishburn, of Fort Collins; their children September (with her children Dante, Sebastian, Billy, Trinity), Corina (with her son Gabriel), Sierra (with her children Marcus and Kayla), and Silver (with his children Ezra, Elspeth, Josiah and Evie); daughter, Moira Gerety, an IT executive, and Steve Summers of Albuquerque; their children Celeste (with her children Ronan & Tigerlily), Melina (with her son Nikolas), Adam (with his son Logan), Danelle (with her sons Corbin and Christian), Mario, and Shannon; daughter, Brigid Gerety MD and husband Carl Hawkins of Albuquerque; and their daughters, Georgia and Charlotte.

Without exception, her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren will remember her engagement with life as an inspiration to stand up and be counted. She was loved and admired, and will be deeply missed.

A Rosary will be recited on Monday, February 13, 2017, at 9:30 a.m. at Aquinas Newman Center, 1815 Las Lomas Road, NE, Albuquerque, NM followed by Mass at 10:00 a.m. The Graveside Service will also be held on Monday, February 13, at 1:30 p.m. at the Santa Fe National Cemetery. Please visit our online guestbook for Peggy at

Published in Albuquerque Journal from Feb. 12 to Feb. 14, 2017
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