Peg McIntire Oct 2, 1910 ~ May 29, 2008

Peg’s memorial celebration
Monday, June 30, from 6 to 9 PM
St. Augustine Beach pavilion ~ All are welcome to this potluck, musical, reminiscent evening of tribute to a true global heroine.

In Memory of Peg McIntire ~ Florida's Oldest Activist

Grandmother for Peace ~ Oct 27, 2007
The peace community mourns the passing of activist for peace and justice. A dear friend has passed on...Peg McIntire, peacefully passed away on the night of May 29. Peg was (is!) a free spirit who was an inspiration to everyone who met her. The word obstacle was not part of her vocabulary. Peg will be greatly missed by the peace and justice community and the St. Augustine & Florida community at large. Marilyn Marstan

I met Peg in 2002 at the farm in north Florida. We went up to help out with the teen camp and had a wonderful time. I was blessed to return several times for pick-ins and each time, Peg was a beacon of light for me. To say that I was honored for this 97 year old to travel down to Orlando on Oct 27 this year would be an understatement.

I was always amazed and enchanted by this woman and to be honest with you, didn't even know why until after her death. After reading a recap of Peg's life that was written by her son, I was surprised to learn of all the forks in the road that Peg had made during her life time. She went to Vassar and Columbia University, lived in Spain with a writer, did Union work in New Orleans, a DC stint with the National Youth Administration and was a speech writer for the NEA [National Education Association].

Peg then moved to Italy and landed the personal assistant to the producer of Ben Hur, saw her family lose the rights to their US passports and though her husband was eventually vindicated and compensated, Peg and family remained in Italy to run an empire.
A decade after her husband's death, her children brought her to Florida where she spent the rest of her life actively pursuing social justice issues. A pillar of Florida Coalition for Peace & Justice, Grannies for Peace, NOW, St. Augustine Youth Hostel, Toys for Tots and the St. Augustine Unitarian Universalists, Peg spent more than twenty years trying to make the world right. She participated in eight marches at School of the Americas, numerous Die-Ins, Sit-Ins and anti-nuclear demonstrations. If it was happening, she was there. I am now even prouder to now say I knew and loved her.

The last email I received from Peg, encouraged me to come up soon with my daughter and stay at her house for a little vacation. I promised I would as soon as school was out. I teased her about being the oldest peace activist in Florida and about my then upcoming trip to DC for the Fifth Year anniversary of the war. Her last words to me were, "How I envy you going to DC! Oh to be young again. " After reading her story, I can only say, "How I envy you Peg, the life you led! Amazing." This is a MUST READ HERstory!

Her son's final words speak volumes:
Peg had many friends and an incredible intergenerational support base. She will be missed for her blue eyes, her smile, her jokes, her vitality, her dedication to causes, her love for Chinese food, music, and red wine.

Peg will be sorely missed but has inspired with her heart.
Peg last year in St. Augustine

Also touching is GOOD BYE DEAR PEG by Bruce Gagnon

If you would like to have yours posted here, send to

Added June 13, 2008
In January of 2008, 97-year old Peg McIntire was hospitalized. It was touch and go for a while, but after a couple weeks she pulled through. Peg left the hospital and came directly downtown to a St. Augustine People For Peace and Justice (PPJ) antiwar demonstration. She didn’t go home to rest. She didn’t go shopping. She didn’t use her difficult situation as an excuse to not participate, in her own inimitable way, in the process of democracy. As recently as a few days before she drew her final breath, Peg attended a PPJ Memorial Day vigil to honor our Iraq/Afghanistan war dead and to decry the wars. This is how Peg lived her life. Her energy for and dedication to social and economic justice were boundless.

I met and began working with Peg in 1983 when a group of St. Augustinians, aware of the continuing madness of the escalating global nuclear arms race, decided to form St. Augustine Seeds For Peace. Over the next year we educated, vigiled, demonstrated, petitioned, and managed to place a nuclear weapons freeze referendum on the St. Augustine city election ballot. Living in a conservative town in a conservative state in a conservative region of the country we hoped that our efforts would at least reach a few. On election night, however, as we gathered around Peg’s TV to watch the returns come in, our expectations were far surpassed. The citizenry of our town voted 2 to 1 in favor of the freeze. We subsequently notified our mayor, town council, county commission, governor and Presidents Reagan and Gorbochov of the will of the people of St. Augustine.

Peg was instrumental as one of the founding members of Seeds For Peace. A sprightly 72-years old at the time, her passion helped propel us forward despite many obstacles. We frequently met in her simple but comfortable home to decide tactics and strategy, and her hospitality abounded. We always felt at home at Peg’s place. Her door was always open and the food and wine flowed.

She was then and continued to be a strong advocate for using consensus as our decision-making process in order to keep the playing field level for all involved. She was not afraid to speak her mind, and she was often the lone dissenting voice when a group was leaning toward a decision that may have been too aggressive or disrespectful. Peg operated from a center of committed activism, but that activism was always to be civil, non-violent and educative. She was arrested several times for standing up in the face of the corporate/ military machine, civilly and disobediently, for her beliefs.

Over the decades I grew to love and respect Peg even more for the way she handled our disagreements. She had her own way of doing things, but she was also open to persuasion and new information and she never let our tiffs get in the way of our ultimate goals.

Since 2002 Peg and I worked together with many others in St. Augustine People For Peace and Justice, a group formed six months prior to the illegal US invasion and occupation of Iraq. Without Peg this group would probably not have come together, at least as soon and as powerfully as it did. Her long-term standing in the local and regional peace and justice communities and her call to action were heard loud and clear by those of us who knew that the US was headed toward a colossal mistake and felt the need to act. Now, after 5 years, millions of deaths and displacements and trillions of dollars, we can thank Peg for galvanizing an active, committed group that still stands strong against the Bush Corporation’s Iraq War. Our regular demonstrations have witnessed this country turn from a misguided and blindly vengeful warmongering to a nation that now sees clearly through the lies and is more than ready for change.

Peg had irons in too many political fires to recount here, but I’ll mention a few in which she participated during the last quarter of her life when I knew her. She founded and coordinated the local chapter of Grandparents For Peace and sent out regular newsletters. She unwaveringly supported Veterans For Peace, Iraq Veterans Against the War, the St. Augustine - Baracoa Friendship Association, and numerous national labor and antiwar organizations including the Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power In Space. She was a regular attendee at the annual demonstrations against the School of the Americas at Fort Benning, GA, where the US trains and supplies international terrorists. She attended and spoke at countless demonstrations all over the southeastern US. She was an integral member of the Florida Coalition For Peace and Justice and co-founded their ongoing summer Peace Camp for kids. She and Paul Archetko organized the annual St. Augustine Earth Day celebration. She actively supported women’s and gay rights. And it was Peg McIntire who spearheaded the People For Peace and Justice Peace Scholarship, now renamed the Peg McIntire Peace Scholarship, an award given annually to a local, peace-minded high school graduate. She did all this and more while working at a local candle shop and enjoying many other social activities.

Peg thought globally, acted locally, and in her century gave inspiration and hope for a more just world to tens of thousands of people across generations. She was a true patriot and an engaged citizen of the world. She loved to sing and dance and to celebrate life, not averse to telling the occasional off-color joke. Well into her 90’s Peg enjoyed the beach, nature, and wading in her pool with friends. She was an avid supporter of local artists, musicians, writers and the now banned street performers. She regularly volunteered at the annual Gamble Rogers Folk Festival and attended many other local music and arts events. Peg loved being a part of our creative, dynamic, progressive community.

It’ll take at least ten full-time, committed activists to fill Peg’s shoes. Her presence is sorely missed by those who knew and worked with her. Just a few hours before her passing it was my privilege to hold her hand, thank her for all the work she’d done and for the strength she’d given me, and to tell her that I loved her.

Peg’s memorial celebration will attempt to reflect and honor the many aspects of her full and productive life. It will take place on Monday, June 30, from 6 to 9 PM at the St. Augustine Beach pavilion. All are welcome to this potluck, musical, reminiscent evening of tribute to a true global heroine.

Tom Santoni

1 comment:

AR said...

wow. mom, i think this is the absolute most passionate thing (otherwise known as a work of art) that I have ever seen(heard) your own words.