Margaret Peak, whose life epitomized the American 20th century experience, died Monday, Feb. 2, with her son L. Anthony Peak at her side. She was 95.

Margaret was born on Christmas Eve in 1919 to Myrtle Jeans, who was originally from the Oklahoma Territory, and Samuel Anthony, a teamster working in the oil fields at Burkburnett, Texas. The family, which included older brother Samuel Cooper Anthony, remained in Burkburnett until the death of Margaret’s father in 1927. After that, Myrtle moved with her children to Roscoe, Texas, which she hoped would provide better work opportunities. The Depression struck and life was hard. There was a failed attempt to raise chickens for sale, the loss of their house and, ultimately, a modestly successful dress shop. Despite the economic challenges, both Margaret and Sam were able to attend college. Margaret worked her way through Texas State College for Women, now Texas Woman’s University, graduating with a bachelor’s degree in home economics in 1940.

At that point in her life Margaret wanted adventure. She took the civil service exam hoping to leave Texas, and, after acing the exam, headed for Washington, D.C., where she went to work for the Bureau of Labor Statistics. At first Washington was a bit of a disappointment in the adventure department, but the onset of World War II changed all that. Margaret joined the U.S. Army, dreaming of being a pilot. Instead she was one of the first three women to be trained to operate radios aboard airplanes. She remained in the Army Air Corps for the duration of the war.

It was during her military training at Lowry Field in Denver that Margaret met Larner R. (Lon) Peak from Philadelphia, also a “flying” radio operator serving in the Army Air Corps. Larner and Toni, as he called her, were married at Valley Forge Chapel in Pennsylvania following the war. Larner returned to work for the Singer Sewing Machine Company, which sent him to its office in Buffalo, N.Y.

It was during this time in New York that the couple’s two children were born: Larner Anthony in 1949 and Margaret Leslie in 1951. In 1956, Larner was transferred to Singer’s Philadelphia office. Like many others of their generation, Larner and Margaret wanted a new house in a new town. With the move to Pennsylvania, the dream came true with the purchase of a new home in a new subdivision in King of Prussia, which was quickly transforming from a farm town to the home of the largest mall in America. During this time, Margaret went back to school, earned her master’s degree in education from Temple University and became a teacher.

In 1967, Larner was transferred to Chicago. Once again the couple bought a house in the suburbs. Margaret continued teaching. Then came the final transfer of Larner’s career, to Los Angeles. Margaret and Larner bought a house in Valencia, in an area soon to be transformed from desert to suburbia. Margaret left teaching for a new career — selling real estate.

Throughout the years of moves and career changes, Margaret and Larner stayed in close contact with friends from World War II. In the 1950s and 60s, they regularly piled the kids into the car and went visiting. Once the kids were grown they visited on their own. In the days prior to the ubiquitous interstate, Margaret drove her children to Texas to see the sites and visit family. Driving and the freedom that entailed were pleasures for Margaret, pleasures she greatly missed in her advanced age.

Following her husband’s death in 1988, Margaret decided to leave California and return to the east coast, where both her children were living. She settled in Williamstown, N.J., in a new house in a new, retiree subdivision. By this point, Margaret had developed rheumatoid arthritis but she did not let the disease, which deformed her hands, keep her from traveling, enjoying lunch with friends or playing Scrabble.

In 1996, at age 76, she became a grandmother for the first time when Barra Augusta Peak was born. Margaret had a few choice words for her son about his tardiness in making her a grandmother, but she fully welcomed her granddaughter. Later she welcomed her additional grandchildren, Eben and Vivian.

In 2005, Margaret suffered a debilitating stroke and needed skilled nursing care. The family decided the best option was for her to move to Martha’s Vineyard and become a resident of Windemere Nursing and Rehabilitation Center. Prior to this time, Margaret believed her son had never “fully thought through” his decision to live on an Island with no significant shopping options, but the Vineyard proved to be a good choice for her final home. She was near her son and his family, and she was the recipient of loving and considerate care by the Windemere staff, and at the end also by Hope Hospice.

Margaret is survived by her daughter, now an attorney with the Department of Veterans Affairs in Washington, D.C., her son, three grandchildren and daughter in law, Rachel Orr.

A graveside service will be held at 10 a.m. on Feb. 14 at the Whitemarsh Cemetery in Ambler, Pa. The family plans to hold a memorial coffee at Windemere at a future date.

In lieu of flowers please consider making a donation to the Windemere Recreation Department Fund.

Arrangements are under the care of the Chapman, Cole and Gleason Funeral Home, Edgartown Road, Oak Bluffs. Visit for online guest book and information.