Peggy McGrath Lawrence, 83, of Addison


ADDISON — Peggy McGrath Lawrence, 83, of Addison, Vt., passed away peacefully on April 21, 2024. Born in New York City, N.Y., Feb. 10, 1941, to the late H. Thomas and Margaret McGrath (nee Cahill), Peggy grew up in Scarsdale, N.Y., with her parents and younger siblings Kerry McGrath Denny, H. Thomas McGrath Jr., and Maureen McGrath. She adored New York City’s glamour and energy and worked in clothing stores and as a model in high school and college. She graduated from Scarsdale High School and Wheaton College in Norton, Mass., where she made lifelong friends and met her future husband, John E. Lawrence Jr. of Hamilton, Mass. Her fondest memories were outside of the classroom, and she loved telling stories from that (and every other) era of her life.

Following her college graduation and marriage in 1963, Peggy and her husband lived in North Carolina as he completed his military service. It was here that Peggy began a lifelong dedication to service, volunteering with Navy Relief providing family counseling support. As the family expanded to include her two sons, they relocated to New York and Rhode Island before settling in Massachusetts in 1975, where she spent the next 40 years. Each new home was an opportunity to exercise her gifts for decoration and entertaining and to forge deep friendships.

Peggy was a practicing artist who earned her master’s in fine arts degree at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts of Boston in 1984. Working particularly in pastels, charcoal, and graphite, she used the landscapes of New England and the transformation of its small towns as very personal subject matter. She also worked professionally as an illustrator and as an architectural draftsperson.

Peggy had a knack for weaving her interests into her personal, professional, and social life. She joined clubs for community and shared enthusiasm and often took leadership roles. She was a devoted gardener and was a past president of the North Shore Garden Club in Massachusetts and the Middlebury Garden Club in Vermont. She wrote plays for and performed with a group at the Somerset Club in Boston, and she served on the Event Committee of the Town Hall Theater in Middlebury following her move to Vermont. She was quick to volunteer her creative talents to worthy causes, decorating donated furniture and bird houses for fundraising sales. She was a member of an investment club for many years and enjoyed hunting the markets for the next stock win. She loved sports, including tennis, skiing and even skydiving in college. Her weekly Middlebury Tai Chi class provided a new kind of challenge, forcing her to both slow down and communicate inwardly. She was up for any game or puzzle, and she looked forward to Mahjong every Monday. Babies, dogs, the filet of fish sandwich at McDonald’s, a party, travel, books, a good bargain, chocolate and talking brought her immense joy. There were things she did not like as well; spelling and computers were a constant source of irritation, and anything that ate the beloved plants in her garden was an implacable foe.

She loved Vermont and appreciated how the community welcomed her when she moved to be close to her son George and his family in 2016. She joined the Congregational Church of Middlebury and became a deacon. She prepared macaroni and cheese and cookies for the Community Supper, which serves over four hundred free meals every Friday and helped with serving, cleanup and provided childcare during it and Sunday services. She was on various committees that organized memorial services and fundraisers, and she painted a mural in the children’s area. She loved the diverse membership of the congregation and made many close friends. She also volunteered at the Ilsley Public Library, working at the annual book sale and participating in holiday decorating there and around town with the garden club. She was proud of her busy schedule.

Peggy most treasured her relationships with her family and friends. Her grandchildren were a source of tremendous pride, and her summer “Grannie Camps” provided many shared fond memories. She is survived by her sons, George E. Lawrence (Cinny) and Nicholas P. Lawrence (Julie); four grandchildren, Ellie, Erin, Charlotte and Tommy; her sister, Maureen McGrath, and many nieces and nephews.

A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. Tuesday, May 28, at the Congregational Church of Middlebury, 2 Main Street, Middlebury, VT 05753 with a reception following at the church.

In lieu of flowers the family suggests contributions in memory of Peggy M. Lawrence to the Charter House Coalition in Middlebury, Vt., supporting the local community with housing and meals at

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