Margaret Wood Thomsen Poffenberger
Lebanon, N.H. — Margaret Wood Thomsen Poffenberger, 92, died in her home at Harvest Hill, Lebanon on Friday, May 23, 2014.
Peggy was born to Eleanor Wood Thomsen and Raymond Long Thomsen in Hartford, Conn. on Feb. 6, 1922, the second of five children. She lived in West Hartford until age nine when she and her family moved to New Canaan to live with her grandparents at Brushwood Farm. Her upbringing in this rural setting instilled an early love of the natural world, outdoor activities, and her grandmother’s beautiful gardens.
After attending Middlebury College for one year Peggy transferred to Smith College from which she graduated in 1942. She then completed a Master’s Degree in Social Work at Columbia University where she met John Roberts Poffenberger, a medical student at Columbia. John and Peggy were married on Dec. 23, 1944.
Following John’s internship and residency, the Poffenbergers settled in Norwich, Conn., where they established professional careers and raised their three children. Peggy worked first for the State of Connecticut facilitating adoptions and foster care. She then developed and directed an early “Information and Referral Service” which eventually expanded into a universal 211 system for connecting citizens with local resources.
In 1975, Peggy and John retired to their vacation home in Brookfield, Vt., where they remained until moving to Lebanon in 2008. Their home and gardens in Brookfield provided a bountiful source of creative projects, lodging for countless visiting family and friends, a base for neighborhood celebrations and nature walks and a site from which they could enjoy the parade of wildlife across their fields and pond. Peggy thrived outdoors - swimming in pond or ocean, cross country skiing on the network of trails that crossed their property or hiking the peaks of the northeast with friends. She was a principal of the Randolph Garden Club and a volunteer for the ELF (Environmental Learning for the Future) Program of the Vt. Institute of Natural Science.
Peggy and her sisters inherited a legacy of social activism from their mother and this characteristic blossomed during her “Brookfield Years.” She was passionate about Peace and Social Justice: a participant in Bridges for Peace programs, a member of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, a Witness for Peace and a Raging Granny. Peggy was also a crusader for women’s rights, a Planned Parenthood advocate and board member and a Girl Scout leader. She volunteered in the Brookfield Elementary School, for Hospice and for the Vermont Court Diversion Program.
Music and art were vital in Peggy’s life; she sang with the Randolph Singers for many years and she and John were enthusiastic supporters of Chandler Center for the Arts and the Central Vermont Chamber Music Festival. She was involved with many spiritual communities, including Bethany United Church of Christ in Randolph and Quaker Meetings in New Hampshire and Vermont.
Peggy Poffenberger was an activist but she will be remembered most of all for nurturing, inspiring, supporting, connecting and loving her family and friends.
She is survived by her three children and their families: Nancy P. Mogielnicki of Plainfield, N.H., husband, Peter and children, Katrina Mogielnicki Spade, Juliana Mogielnicki Bernstein and John Mogielnicki; Sue P. Wattie of Mt. Pleasant, S.C., husband, Robert Wattie, Jr. and children, Rob Wattie and Craig Wattie; and John Thomsen (Thom) Poffenberger of Bennington, Vt. She also leaves six great grandchildren, Carsyn, Jack and Robert T. Wattie III, Riley and Kale Spade and Eliot Bernstein. She is survived by her sisters, Ellen Thomsen Weiss of Lebanon, N.H. and Linda Thomsen Terriberry of Danville, Va.; and her brother, Walter Thomsen of Fulshear, Texas; as well as many nieces and nephews.
Peggy was predeceased by her husband John, who died in February, 2011, and her sister, Frances Thomsen Nye of Norwich, Vt.
Peggy spent the last several years of her life at Harvest Hill in Lebanon, a place that for her was secure and comfortable and filled with friends and staff whom she considered “family.”
There will be a Gathering of Remembrance and Appreciation for Harvest Hill friends in the Garden Room at 3 p.m., Friday, June 6, 2014. And according to her wishes, Peggy’s family will host a Garden Party at 120 Black Hill Road in Plainfield, N.H., on Sunday, June 29, 2014, 2 p.m. to 5 p.m., to which all are invited. Flowered hats welcome! Call 603 298 5874 for details.