Peggy Scanlon
Memorial service
Jan, 8 2022
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Peggy Scanlon

Peggy Louise Scanlon (née Abell) died on April 15, 2021, in Redmond, Washington. She was an artist, world traveller, hiker and pilot; mother of four and grandmère of nine.

Peggy was born in Adelaide, Australia, on July 5, 1938, the eldest of three daughters. Her mother Lucille, the daughter of a sometime stage coach driver from Montana, had emigrated to Australia upon marrying Australian mining engineer Leo Abell. Leo's career took his family to mining regions across the globe. Peggy's early childhood was spent on the Pacific island of Fiji (at the time a British colony), where her father worked at a mine whose gold funded the war effort throughout the Second World War. The family next moved to the Mediterranean island of Cyprus, where Peggy briefly attended boarding school.

At 15 Peggy moved to California to attend high school, living with an aunt in Riverside. The rest of her family moved a few years later to the Phelps Dodge (PD) mining town of Morenci, Arizona, where Peggy graduated as high school valedictorian. At the University of New Mexico and the University of Arizona she studied architecture: the lone female in the program, she was top of her class. In 1958 she married PD executive M.P. 'Pat' Scanlon in Morenci; their honeymoon was an (unsuccessful) bow-and-arrow hunting trip in Arizona's White Mountains.

The couple lived for 15 years in Douglas, Arizona, another PD town, where they raised their four children. While in Douglas Peggy learned to fly small aircraft at Cochise College, eventually earning a commercial pilot's license and an airframe and powerplant certification. In 1974 the engine of the small plane she was piloting failed and she crash-landed on a residential street, suffering extensive injuries. Undeterred, she continued to fly for pleasure until Pat's job took them to Westchester County, New York.

In New York Peggy completed her undergraduate degree at the College of New Rochelle and began studying for an MBA while holding down a full-time job at a bank. She and Pat divorced, and soon she returned to the western desert that she loved, living first in Palm Springs, California, where she worked in financial planning, then moving to the former mining town of Bisbee, Arizona upon her retirement.

After living briefly in 'downtown' Bisbee, Peggy bought a plot of land and built a home on the town´s southern fringes, overlooking Mexico's San José peak. She hiked daily in the surrounding Sonoran desert, gathering bits of rusted metal from abandoned mines, 'desert glass,' and coral beans. Reviving her longstanding interest in painting, she produced several series of watercolors, some featuring these desert items and others depicting the natural beauty of the area. She volunteered at the library and the Bisbee Mining Museum, drawing on her lifelong association with the industry and Phelps Dodge.

In Palm Springs and Bisbee she belonged to hiking groups dedicated to exploring the surrounding deserts and mountain ranges. In the company of these adventurers, she bushwhacked through dense desert vegetation if there were no trails. When she was in her seventies she and a fellow hiker got lost in a remote area of Cochise County and spent the night on an exposed mountainside, taking turns to stoke a fire for warmth.

After her children left home Peggy resumed the foreign travel that characterized her childhood. She trained seriously and completed a number of demanding treks, including to the base camps of Everest and K2. She preferred exotic and even dangerous destinations, and the Middle East held a special appeal: she visited Kazakhstan, Yemen and Syria. She studied Farsi for some years and made several trips to Iran at a time when few Americans—much less mature American women—visited that country. She recorded her journeys in an extraordinary series of photographs that were exhibited, along with her paintings, at galleries in Bisbee and Tombstone.

She spent the last few years of her life in Redmond, Washington.

Peggy is survived by her children: Kathleen Scanlon Bradley (Tim Bradley), an academic at the London School of Economics; Mary Scanlon (Charles Hutchings), a graphic designer in Seattle; Sylvia Miles (Brad), a CPA in Thousand Oaks, California, and Matt (Monica Williams), a real-estate appraiser in Ogden, Utah. She had nine grandchildren: Marshall, Leo, Henry and Juanita Bradley; Genevieve and Kayla Hutchings; Bradley 'LB' and Will Miles and Mason Scanlon.

A memorial service will be held in Tucson on January 8, 2022. Donations may be made in Peggy's memory to the Bisbee Mining Museum or to UNICEF's Syrian Refugees Appeal.

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Published by The Desert Sun from Jul. 9 to Jul. 13, 2021.
Memorial service
, Tucson, AZ
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