December 29, 2012 in Washington Voices

Surprise celebration

Volunteer turns 89, feted as ‘a real-life sweetheart’
By The Spokesman-Review
Jesse Tinsley photoBuy this photo

Peggy Taylor stands in the antique kitchen display at the Spokane Valley Heritage Museum. She is a longtime museum volunteer and has lived in Spokane Valley since 1943.
(Full-size photo)

The Spokane Valley Heritage Museum, 12114 E. Sprague Ave., celebrates not only the history of Spokane Valley, but its volunteers as well.

Peggy Taylor turned 89 Friday, and the museum threw her a surprise party to celebrate.

“I’ve been here seven years,” Taylor said of her work at the museum. “I’ve done everything, even scrub the floor.”

Museum executive director Jayne Singleton said she planned to have a party for Taylor when she heard she would be turning 90 years old. When she learned Taylor was actually turning 89, she decided to throw her a surprise party anyway.

“She is a real-life sweetheart,” Singleton said of her volunteer.

Taylor came to the Spokane area from Hunters, Wash., in the 1940s to study nursing at Deaconess Hospital.

“That was going to be my career,” she said. After her arrival, she was introduced to a young man by her cousin.

“It was a blind date,” she said. She married Les Taylor and the couple raised three children in Spokane Valley, where he grew up. He died in 1989.

She worked the night shift in the tuberculosis ward at Edgecliff for many years so she could spend time with her children when they came home from school. When the couple were first married, her mother-in-law bought them a house thatwas once in the family of Lt. James Buell Felts, the local aviator who Felts Field is named after.

Taylor said she has always been interested in history. She grew up near the Flathead Indian Reservation in Montana. She heard about the Jesuits of St. Ignatius and learned about the history of Native Americans. She now likes to read and research Native American history and is currently reading a book about Chief Joseph.

Her love of history brought her to the museum. She appreciates that the museum is always putting new exhibits in and researching each one.

Among her favorite recent exhibits are “The RMS Titanic Remember,” marking the 100th anniversary of the ship’s sinking, and the Native American exhibit “Under One Sky.”

“There’s always a new exhibit,” she said. But it’s not just the exhibits she likes about volunteering.

“I enjoy the people I work with here,” she said. There are Christmas parties, pool parties and other opportunities to socialize. “It isn’t always just work. We have fun.”

There has been a lot of change in Spokane Valley since she first moved here in 1943.

“We used to have a zoo,” she said. It was near Sprague and Park. Of course Sprague Avenue has changed a lot over the years, too. There were dress shops, saloons and jewelry stores as well as an ice rink, a roller rink and a theater. There were no malls at the time.

“But we had the big stores here in the Valley,” she said, remembering the old Crescent department store.

Apart from the time spent at the museum, Taylor said she gets up early every day and spends two hours reading. Her three children, Glen, Keith and Laurie, all live in Spokane Valley; of her six grandchildren, one of them lives nearby.

“I count myself as one of your daughters,” Singleton said.

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