Always Others

Peggy Bothwell was all about Collegiate.
While she didn’t literally bleed green and gold, she modeled the school’s values and truly cared about its mission, vision, and people.
A 1959 alumna, Peggy served as student body president her senior year when the school was located at 1619 Monument Avenue and made her mark as a caring, dedicated, inclusive leader.
Following her graduation from Sweet Briar College, she returned to her alma mater, by that time located on North Mooreland Road, and began a distinguished career that would span 40 years.
From 1964 until she retired in 2005, she served as a history teacher, advisor, and counselor. Her greatest strengths were challenging her students to think deeply and creatively and treating all whose path crossed hers with compassion, understanding, and empathy.
For many years, Peggy also played an integral role as a summer programs administrator, and in 1986 when the structure of the institution changed, she became a charter member of the team, led by Bill Reeves, which laid the foundation for the Middle School of today.
In all her endeavors, Peggy was regarded as wise, thoughtful, and innovative. She was a problem solver, trusted colleague, mentor to students and faculty, and the consummate team player. She dealt with life’s challenges, both personal and professional, with stoic resolve and dignity and without a hint of self-pity.
Peggy’s life was about much more than Collegiate, though.
It was about family: her children Betsy Stepp ’83, Kathy Gregory ’86, and Ned Bothwell ’91 and their families which included her seven grandchildren.
It was about friends with whom she shared myriad adventures, travels, and quiet moments of conversation and reflection at home, at the beach, on Gwynn Island, or along the Rappahannock.
And it was about selfless, faithful service to her community, to All Saints Episcopal Church, and to others. Always others.
Peggy, who had lived at Westminster Canterbury Richmond in recent years, slipped away peacefully on January 8 after a period of declining health.
With her passing came an outpouring of remembrances and tributes which speak to a life lived with grace, purpose, humility, and meaning.
Please enjoy thoughts and insights from several of her many admirers.
Peggy was devoted to fulfilling Bill Reeves’ vision for the new Middle School. She was tireless, dogged, and perpetually optimistic despite the challenges. In many ways, trying to meld two proud, distinct programs into one coherent coordinate middle school was a thankless job, but Peggy was determined to do her part to get it done.
     Charlie Blair
     Collegiate faculty/Middle School administration 1979-2019
When the new Middle School was created, Peggy was one of most influential planners as 7th and 8th Grade curriculum coordinator, which meant merging curriculum from two different schools into one, which she accomplished effectively over the next few years. She was also responsible for a new emphasis on co-curricular activities that we still have today in our activities and service programs.  Peggy dedicated very long hours to implementing and improving these programs during her years at Collegiate.
     Fletcher Collins
     Collegiate faculty/Middle School administration 1977-present
I feel so fortunate that I got to know Peggy as a founding member of our Middle School team, an advisor within the advisory program, and then as (my daughter) Alice's advisor. Through all those roles, Peggy's compassion for others was front and center in every interaction. I also appreciated her sense of humor which lightened each moment and found her chuckle to be unforgettable. One of Peggy's significant accomplishments was her work on our co-curricular program. She really believed that middle school students need a broad education so she organized a wide array of activities from which students could select some fun activities.
     Sally Chambers
     Collegiate Middle School guidance counselor 1986 - 2018
Peggy had such a profound impact on my life as a student and as a teacher. She was a strong female leader whose influence molded many female students to be future leaders both at Collegiate and beyond. I treasure the memories of Peggy's history classes and the debates that took place with passion and conviction. She will always have a special place in my heart.
     Melanie Gorsline ‘74
     Collegiate faculty 1978-present  
My first year as a teacher in the Girls School, Peggy loomed large as very serious and in an upper echelon of long-time Collegiate teachers far removed from a new hire like me. She held things private. In fact, for many years I didn't know that she was a talented and trained pianist. It wasn't until we attended a DC professional day when, with a group at dinner, I got to see and enjoy the relaxed, dry humor and fun- loving side of her personality. It was well worth the wait. 
     Carole Sandy
     Collegiate faculty 1966-2005
As Mr. Reeves’ assistant in the Middle School, Peggy incorporated silent reading as part of the school day. As a history teacher, she was passionate and informed. A ready smile, a generous spirit, Peggy reached out to all who knew her. When (my husband) Ron died, she was determined to help. I asked her to weed and tidy up my front plants. I remember her out there, happy to be part of my healing journey.
     Maria Benson
     Collegiate faculty 1983 - 2019
Peggy was always a kind soul, ready to help, quick to recognize accomplishments of others, and a gentle guide in any situation. She made me feel welcome as a new teacher at Collegiate from day one. She was the first and only female tenor in the All Saints Choir, and her lively sense of fun will be greatly missed.
     Kris Koebler
     Collegiate faculty 1989-2009
Peggy and I were neighbors in the Upper School hallway for many years. When I was a newcomer, she welcomed me to the school she loved, and it was not long before I understood why. A colleague and a friend, she embodied all the values of Collegiate. She was a great teacher, musician, administrator, and mother. I had great respect and affection for someone who never stopped giving to others. I am grateful to have shared with her the best years of my life at Collegiate.
     Chris Rimbault
     Collegiate faculty 1974-1999
Peggy provided special support for her colleagues and the students in the Middle School for many years.  She could always be depended upon for encouragement. Her positive attitude was infectious.  Peggy was devoted to the Middle School and loved every aspect of her job. She thrived on interactions with her students and wanted every child to succeed.
     John Moreau
     Collegiate faculty 1966-2005
I remember Mrs. Bothwell as a stickler. She insisted on good organization, strong notetaking skills, and correct spelling. But you knew she was a stickler because she wanted you to grow and become better as a history student and as a person. 
     Lindsey Melvin ‘88
     Collegiate faculty/Middle School administration 2000 - present
I have known Peggy since college days.  During our long friendship, I think of her as one who was always getting friends together for everything from casual dinners to lively activities such as snow ball fights between residents of her college dorm.  She loved doing for others whether it was helping her friends or volunteering for mission trips.  Peggy was multi-talented.  An expert seamstress, she made everything from slipcovers and draperies to her daughters' wedding dresses. Rewiring lamps, making minor sewing machine repairs, designing her own knitting patterns, and arranging flowers are only a few of the other things she knew how to do.  In all of the years and in all of the circumstances in which I have known Peggy, she was modest about her talents and accomplishments, and she always put others first.
     Anita Grymes Towell
     Collegiate faculty 1962-1967, 1979-2004
Peggy was a friend. She was insightful, supportive, fun, always ready to listen, and eager for life’s adventures. She was a woman of fierce loyalties, and Collegiate was part of her. I will miss her with all my heart.
     Marion Chenault ‘62
     Collegiate faculty 1967-1972, 1975-1978
         -- Weldon Bradshaw
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  • Kathy Bothwell Gregory
    Thank you all for the beautiful memories that you have shared about our mom. Seeing many of your faces Friday and reliving stories was a tribute to Mom which she would have loved. We are grateful for the colleagues, friends and the school that made mom’s life so richly filled with purpose.