Margaret “Peg” Schuster, 80, of New Hartford, NY, and Mason, NH, died peacefully surrounded by family on Easter morning, April 4, 2010. Peg died at Faxton St. Luke’s Hospital in New Hartford, NY, where she had been hospitalized after a brief illness.
Peg was born in Boston, Massachusetts to Elsie Taylor Cross and Aeneas Daniel Smith. She was a graduate of Sudbury High School, Class of 1947. In 1950, she married William “Bill” Morrison. A few years later, she and Bill built a home in their hometown of Sudbury, Massachusetts. While in Sudbury, Peg and Bill had four children — two girls and two boys. In the early ’60s, the family moved to Mason where they quickly became an active part of the community, even opening their home for an annual open house sliding party on Jed’s Lane. (Peg would often ask people if they knew that Jed’s Lane was named after her children Judy, Ellen, David and Steven.)
In the early ’70s, after more than twenty years of marriage, Peg and Bill divorced. In 1978, Peg married Malcolm “Mac” Jewell, a Welshman from Gloucester, England. Peg and Mac’s home was frequently filled with family, friends and lots of love and laughter. They also managed to do quite a bit of international and domestic traveling over the years. The couple continued to reside happily together in Mason until Malcolm’s death in 1995.
Peg had planned to live out her days as a single until she reconnected with Tom Schuster who had proposed to her before leaving to serve in the Navy in the late ’40s. At the time, Peg was 19 and not ready for marriage, so she declined Tom’s proposal by sending him a “Dear John” letter. A year or so later, Tom married and settled down in New York where he and his wife had three children. In 1999, when Tom and Peg spoke on the phone, Tom asked her why she had broken his heart. Tom then went on to tell Peg not to feel badly because he had married a wonderful woman named Marie who had passed away in 1997. Like Peg, Tom also had planned to remain single. However, when the two got together, they enjoyed each other’s company so much that they decided that marriage was a good idea. They married on July 22, 2000 in New York.
Peg held a variety of jobs over the years which included working for EB Horn Jewelers, serving lunches in the Mason School cafeteria, writing the Mason news in the Milford Cabinet newspaper, working as a census taker and as a secretary for the school district bilingual program. She was employed for several years at PVA-EPVA in Wilton before retiring. Peg also provided secretarial support to Santa Claus, helping him answer the many letters he received during the Christmas season. Peg’s interests and activities were varied. She organized Thursday night softball games, chaperoned town dances; ran a summer day camp, worked with Andy’s Summer Playhouse, 4H, the Girl Scouts and the Junior Choir. In addition, she and a few of her closest friends became the self-appointed “Mason Girls” whose job it was to welcome new residents to town. Peg also loved sending cards to people on their birthdays and anniversaries.
She was a member of several Mason organizations, the Mason Congregational Church and its women’s group the Ladies Aid, the Historical Society, the Grange and the PTA. In recent years, she assisted the new owners of the Uncle Sam house in their mission to educate the community about Samuel Wilson, the US icon, who had once lived in Mason.
Peg is survived by her husband of ten years, Thomas D. Schuster, and her children Judy Rousseau of Peterborough, NH and David Morrison and Ellen Schimke, both of Mason. Peg was predeceased by her youngest son Steve in April 2009 and her greatgrandson Asher in September 2008. In addition to Peg’s biological children she is survived by stepchildren Jane Hanford of Wales, Marianne Oettinger, Thomas D. Schuster, Jr. and Lou Doyle of New York.
Peg’s surviving siblings are Robert Smith of California, Edith Swift of Maine, Katherine Hoover and William Smith of Florida and Elizabeth Clark of Vermont. Peg is also survived by sons and daughters-in-law, many grandchildren, great grandchildren, nieces, nephews and countless dear friends. In addition, Peg had many other “children” from all over the world who thought of her as a mother.
A service in celebration of Peg’s life will be held on June 5, 2010 at 2:00 pm at the Mason Congregational Church in Mason, New Hampshire. Memorial contributions can be made to the Mason Congregational Church, 33 Valley Road, Mason, NH 03048.
Peg will be lovingly remembered and missed. She had an incredible ability to see and appreciate the good in people, affirming and encouraging each one with a kind word, a smile and a piece of hard candy. Her kindness left a mark on this world that will not be forgotten. She loved greatly and was greatly loved.
Another faithful member of the Mason Historical Society has left us. Peg Schuster was a friendly and willing volunteer. Besides her newspaper reporting, Ladies’ Aid activities, visiting the homebound and other endeavors, Peg shared her “free time” with the Mason Historical Society. She and husband Tom (in the later years) worked on the MHS scrapbooks. She did inventory of the items that were donated to the Society. Every year, she assembled information for the back page of the Town Reports.
She loved the history of Mason — especially regarding Uncle Sam. Back on September 13, 2005 she coordinated a birthday party with Cecile and Jean-Pierre Mouraux, owners of the Uncle Sam House. This party was held at the Town Hall. Peg dressed as Uncle Sam when he was 14 and told the story of Uncle Sam to the school kids. The kids were treated to cake and punch and other goodies. I was honored to be a part of that celebration.
In the later years, Peg and Tom split their time between New York and Mason, always leaving us with a schedule of when they would expect to return. She often e-mailed many of us and probably eventually knew more about Mason news than any one of us. I enjoyed her greetings, hugs and many stories of Mason as she visited us in the library.