Peggy Jeanne Coleman Brill, 91, of Marlinton, peacefully passed away Sunday, November 22, 2020.
Born March 9, 1929, in Fayette County, she was a daughter of Harriett Thompson Coleman and John Henry Coleman.
Peggy grew up in Mt. Hope with her three sisters. She loved to dance from a very young age, riding the bus to Beckley for weekly dance lessons. With her beautiful Shirley Temple curls and sweet face, she was once photographed for the cover of the Greyhound Bus Company’s travel magazine. She danced for the rest of her life.
She is remembered first and foremost for being a loving and devoted wife, mother, sister and friend to many people. She was a West Virginia public school teacher who was known to be a good listener and confidant by her students, contributing to their education and their lives in many ways. She educated generations of students.
Peggy started college at Marshall University and transferred to West Virginia University where her Uncle Bill Thompson could keep an eye on her. She seemed to enjoy the Alpha Xi Delta sorority and dance parties at Marshall more than her studies. Nonetheless, she successfully graduated from WVU as a Social Studies and Secretarial Practice teacher. While at WVU, Peggy met her future husband, James Samuel “Sam” Brill. After meeting Sam, she told her college friends that she’d met the man she would one day marry – setting her cap for that Kappa Alpha man. Peggy married the love of her life and partner, Sam, on August 21,1950 and enjoyed 55 years with him until his death on February 23, 2005.
After marrying, Peggy and Sam moved to Marlinton, Sam’s hometown.
She taught school in Pocahontas County, first at Hillsboro High School, and later at Marlinton High School. In between those positions, Peggy worked in the offices of Smith Lumber as a bookkeeper where she was known to have a keen eye for calculating board feet.
Peggy and Sam’s first child, Jane Sara, was born in September 1963. Two years later in July 1965, Peggy gave birth to triplet girls on Sam’s 40th birthday. James Samuel Brill II, Jimmy, was born in September 1966. Jimmy died from leukemia in November 1969.
The arrival of five children in a little over three years led Sam to pursue new employment and the family moved to Montgomery, where he worked at West Virginia Institute of Technology. Peggy returned to the classroom at Montgomery High School and later Valley High School in Fayette County. She taught accounting, typing and shorthand.
With Sam, Peggy’s life was an adventure. While they lived primarily in West Virginia, Sam pursued his doctoral studies at the University of Southern California, which took them to that state to live on three different occasions. The whole family enjoyed the cross-country drives for each move, stopping to see parks, forests and towns, staying in motels with swimming pools and spaghetti dinners. Peggy loved her time in California, especially the last time, when the family rented a house on the water in Newport Beach.
Wherever Peggy lived, her home was filled with friends, children and pets (some hers, some not). She loved being surrounded by those she loved. Whether in Marlinton or Montgomery, Peggy loved to host parties with friends. The family enjoyed sharing blackberry cobblers with neighbors, or cocktails and bridge during monthly bridge parties at their home. Peggy’s favorite natural area in Pocahontas County was Beartown State Park, and she took all out-of-town guests there for a visit in good weather.
After they retired in 1987, Peggy and Sam moved back to Marlinton. Peggy used her accounting skills to volunteer, helping others by completing and filing their annual tax returns. She even identified a few IRS errors to the benefit of her customers.
Together, she and Sam enjoyed traveling the United States in their RV camper, visiting friends across the country. They were active golfing members of the Pocahontas County Country Club, enjoying many hours there with friends. At holiday times, Peggy and “the girls,” sometimes with Joan Ervine, would shop for Christmas gifts together over the Thanksgiving holidays. After Sam passed in 2005, Peggy and Isabel McElwee became close friends and were often out and about, or at Isabel’s for an evening glass of wine. Peggy enjoyed daily coffee with friends at the Dirt Bean for many years. Peggy and Sam belonged to Marlinton United Methodist Church and were active members of their church community.
Later in life, Peggy moved to a senior community in Chicago, Illinois, nearer to her daughter, Amy, and her family. She lived in Chicago until her death. The family was blessed with wonderful caregivers who supported them and Peggy until her passing.
Peggy is survived by her children, Amy Cooper (Chad), of Chicago, Illinois, Janie Hillock (John), of Livonia, Mississippi, Julie Teixeira (Brian), of Valparaiso, Indiana, and Lee Veal (Kevin), of Alexandria, Virginia; two grandchildren, Samuel and Sarah Cooper; her brother-in-law, Walter Carr Beene, of Fayetteville; as well as several nieces and nephews.
A service will be held in Marlinton, when the pandemic and travel conditions permit.
In lieu of flowers, please make donations to Chicago Methodist Senior Services – Wesley Place, 1415 W Foster Ave, Chicago, IL 60640.