Margaret (Peg) Buchanan

Honored by:Elaine Dunn and Carolyn Cornette
Brick location:F:28  map

Pag Buchanan 1915-1985 "Peg" Buchanan was born Margaret Ann Kehoe on August 3 1915 in Des Moines Iowa the youngest of 6 children. Her grandparents had immigrated from Ireland in the late 1800's and her storytelling ability and her gregariousness no doubt came from her Irish roots. Although she faced adversity and painful situations throughout her life she greeted the world with courage wit and a ready smile always able to see the best in the situation. Growing up in a large family she knew what it was to "make do" when resouces were short. She also learned "help out" family and neighbors when resources were available. She was in her early teens when the Great Depression swept the land. Sharing with others and caring for one another was her way of life-- and her way to survive. She experienced loss through death often and early in her life. Two of her siblings died during this period one of TB and another of pneumonia. Not long after her mother died of a brain tumor. Her fathe died 5 years later. She married Murray Buchanan in 1932. He had just been discharged from the US Navy where he had gained skills in electronics. He was able to get a job with the Federal Aviation Agency and Peg and Murray lived close to various airports in the mid west with their young family. Elaine was born in 1933 and William Murray Jr. in 1935. A second daughter was born in 1937 but died 8 days later in her fathers arms. In the fall of 1940 Murray received notice to report for active duty with the Navy. He had remained in the Naval Reserve as a means to supplement income for his family. A second son Douglas was born late in October of that year after a diffcult delivery which neither mother or child was expected to survive. Murray reported for duty on January 1 and Peg was left with a six week old baby and a 6 and 8 year old. One year later World War II began and Peg was to be both mother and father to her family for 5 more years. Money was no longer a problem but food gasoline and some items of clothing were rationed. Providing shoes for example for a growing family became a problem. Like other families she "made do" as best she could and assuaged her loneliness and worry about her husband by caring for her family entertaining them with her stories by reading to them and by writing and receiving letters from war zones around the globe. Her husband served in both the Atlantic and the Pacific theaters of war and survived the sinking of two ships one of the cruiser Chicago in the South Pacific. When at last the war was over life assumed some normalcy. The children were in highschool then college. Peg spent her time as good neighbor doing what she could to lend a hand when and were needed. Soon her hands were needed. Her mother-in-law a severe diabetic lost a leg and Peg cared for her for 8 years until her death. Now a grandmother (a young one!) she and her husband moved to a new job in another community leaving West Des Moines where they had lived and put down roots. Only a short while later Murray died suddenly of an aneurysm. She was a widow at age 46 in a town that was not really home to her. She came Ames to live the rest of her life with her daughter and family. She became active in the community. She was "Grandma" to scores of children with whom she baby sat. She cared for children and for their parents and was there when she was needed. She initiated a "Giving Tree" at Christmas time at her church to provide gifts for nursing home residents. (This has become a tradition and is still carried on at this writing in 1994.) She started a neighbor "club" in which women got together once a month for a night out. This was before so many worked outside the home and lacked contact with other adults. (This club is still in existence after nearly 30 years). These women loved her wit as she dispensed her down-to-earth wisdom. She was a good friend and neighbor who had a talent for listening. She worked tirelessly for the Appalachia Committee an organization which collected and distributed used clothing toys and furniture to needy families in Appalachia and locally. She became a one woman social agency. When she heard of someone in need she did what she could to provide help. Either she was there to lend a hand or more often than not she tapped her sources in the community and found businesses or private individuals to provide what was needed. Although she had not attended high school she educated herself and valued education. She and her husband inspired their children to higher education and saw to it that they all went to college. And was she proud of their achievements! One son completed a Ph.D. and serves as a school administrator and another son established a very successful consulting actuarial firm. Her daughter wo