BUTLER, Mary Margaret “Peggy”
She was born Mary Margaret, but almost from her birth in Montreal on June 8, 1924, everyone called her Peggy. Daughter of N.E.D. and Gladys Sheppard, she and her younger sister, Nancy (Holland), grew up in comfort, with summer holidays in Maine and winter skiing in the Laurentians.
But when war came, she left her privileged life and joined the Royal Canadian Air Force. She was 19 years old. While stationed in Gander, Newfoundland, she met a handsome young airman from small town New Brunswick, Garnet Butler. (She didn’t care for his first name, and unilaterally changed it to Gary.) The affluent big-city girl and the poor small-town boy fell in love and married in 1948. They were still together when Gary died in 1997.
Together, they had four children: Donald, Kathryn, Douglas and Stephen. (Steve died in 2019.) They lived in Montreal West, Toronto, Streetsville, Ottawa, Scarborough and Kitchener, where they retired in 1990. When her children were growing, Peggy was a loving full-time mother, but at age 50 she was hired by the Scarborough library and worked on its bookmobile for 15 years. A voracious reader, she loved the job.
In retirement, Peggy joined the YWCA in Kitchener and exercised there faithfully three days a week until she was 85. Even in her early 80s, she walked at a pace that challenged people half her age.
Recognizing that she needed more help as she aged, Peggy moved back to Ottawa in 2011 to be near her son Donald’s family. She had several happy years as a resident of Amica in Westboro before advancing Alzheimer’s disease forced her into long-term care at the Perley and Rideau Veteran’s Health Centre. There she received loving, compassionate care from the Perley’s superb staff and outside caregiver Herfalyn “Paulette” Bent.
In 2020’s waning days, Peggy’s health took a sharp downward turn. On the morning of Jan. 6, in her 97th year, she drew her last breath.
Along with her surviving children and their spouses (Christina Spencer, Joy Ferguson, Doug Young and Heather Ross), she leaves seven grandchildren: Sean Butler, Meagan Zucco, Jessilyn Butler-Horton, Sarah Butler, Russ Butler, Ryan Young and Giles Young. She was predeceased by another grandson, Gordon Butler. She also leaves numerous great-grandchildren. Family was everything to her, and the memory of her love and kindness will live forever in our hearts.
In lieu of flowers, donations in Peggy’s name to the Alzheimer’s Society or the Perley and Rideau Veteran’s Health Centre Foundation would be gratefully received.
Alzheimer Society of Canada
Perley and Rideau Veterans' Health Centre