Cover photo for Peggy Row's Obituary
Peggy Row Profile Photo
1931 Peggy 2017

Peggy Row

April 20, 1931 — May 11, 2017

Peggy Joyce Kellar Row was born on April 20, 1931 in Smithville, Texas to Homer Kellar and Lottie Leola Roberts. Peggy lived her entire life in Smithville. Raised as a country girl during the Great Depression, her doting parents did everything they could for her. Her mother made sure Peggy was always well-dressed even if her dresses were made from flour sacks. They spent their few pennies for her Christmas gifts - like a tiny iron and broom. She was their pride and joy.

Always a good student, Peggy graduated from Smithville High School in 1946 as the Salutatorian of her graduating class. Peggy enjoyed her role as a cheerleader and, in later years, her Halloween costumes were always borrowed from the current cheerleaders. George Burns was a star high school football player. He liked to tell the story that he invited her to the prom but she turned him down. Many years later, after both spouses passed away, George asked her out again and this time she didn't refuse. They enjoyed companionship for several years until George's death in 2014.

After high school, Peggy went "away" to Nixon Clay Commercial College in Austin. She graduated in 1949 as an Executive Secretary. Her mother packed her lunch as she set out for the weekly drive to Austin where she lived with her roommates. She came home every weekend and sang in the church choir.
It was the church choir that introduced her to Irvin Row, the new band director in town. Irvin saw her in the choir; found her photo at the high school and, because it was hanging near the ceiling, he couldn't see it well. He misread her name and called her Pasty on their first date. He eventually got it right.

On November 27, 1952 Peggy and Irvin exchanged wedding vows. When they moved into a garage apartment, an astonished Irvin moved 130 pairs of Peggy's shoes…he counted. Peggy loved shoe shopping on Congress Avenue particularly at Scarboroughs. The sample shoes were her tiny size (4 ½). She bought so many pairs that the manager called her when new shipments came in. Hence, 130 pairs of shoes.

Peggy and Irvin had two daughters, Shelley Jane and Alison Ann. Together they created a happily-ever-aftering environment for raising their two girls. Peggy's friends must have grown weary of hearing stories about the girls (the girls grew weary of hearing stories about the girls). Peggy made sure that the girls had lots of time with their grandparents, Granny and Dapa - feeding cattle, riding horses, baking cinnamon rolls, dying Easter eggs, shelling peas and pecans (the peas were easier than the pecans). They rode bikes to the movie theater or to Shirocky's for a pound of ground beef or a loaf of Mrs. Baird's bread (which was only purchased on the day the "bread man" arrived). Peggy arranged piano lessons across the street with Mrs. Tidwell. Peggy never missed a concert, football game (for the band half-time show), or a piano recital. She attended volleyball games, drilled spelling words, picture memory cards and helped the girls with poetry reading and typing for UIL contests. Homework was a family affair around the kitchen table with Peggy overseeing completion. She put considerable thought into birthday parties for her daughters. She bought and saved spring time birthday plates and napkins so that Shelley could have a spring birthday in December.

It was important to Peggy that her girls be raised in the Baptist Church as she was a member her whole life. Even on vacation, she sought out a Sunday School so that the girls would have perfect attendance and receive a year-end pin. Always proper and polite, Peggy worried that her little girls would make too much noise in church. She packed a snack to keep them quiet during the service: marshmallows wrapped in Kleenex. It doesn't get any quieter than that. After seeing her first baptism, a disappointed Alison told her mom, "I thought it was going to be puppet show."

Her daughters' fond memories include shopping for Easter dresses and back-to-school clothes. Each included a trip to Highland Mall and lunch of nachos at Chelsea Street Pub. The three of them spent hours playing cards in the living room floor - until Irvin came home!

Peggy was the protector of her daughters. Peggy came to Shelley's rescue when Irvin insisted she practice a clarinet passage until it was perfect. On more than one occasion Irvin insisted that TODAY was the day for yard work even though the girls had plans with their friends. After an appropriate period of picking up limbs, (Irvin's gardening tools were limited to a chain saw) Peggy convinced him to release the girls from the yard. When it was time for Alison to leave for college, Peggy cried so hard when she dropped her off that she got lost on her way home.

Peggy was proud of her professional abilities. As a medical secretary at the Smithville Hospital, initially for Dr. Thomas, she delighted in her ability to type medical information as fast as he could dictate it and with no spelling errors even on medical terms. She was Secretary for the Smithville School District and worked with Jimmy Stacy and Dr. Hestand. Peggy enjoyed her job as Director of the Chamber of Commerce where she used her considerable organizational skills on behalf of local businesses. She used her grammar skills as a staff member of "The Smithville Times" newspaper.

Peggy was active in Smithville social circles. As a member of the Smithville Garden Club, she participated in numerous flower arranging contests. She taught the principles of flower arranging to the girls - a skill that surprises their friends to this day. Peggy and the girls spent hours at the Smithville Public Library and later she was on the Board. She was part of the Study Club where a member would read a book and present an oral report to the others followed by refreshments. Peggy prepared like it was a term paper - underlining passages and making notes. Her favorite author was Erma Bombeck whose stories filled the living room with laughter. She was a good friend. Debbie Kusey's husband, Doug, was out of town when she was pregnant with their twin girls, Rosie and Daisy. A hurricane warning was in effect so Debbie called Peggy. She arrived in 5 minutes.

It was Peggy who managed the household and took care of the girls when Irvin was called back into active Military Service. Within the space of a day, he was deployed and she was left with an 8 and 3-year old. She managed it all for the years he was gone. When asked how she did it, she said, "You do what you have to do."

Peggy was proud of Irvin's military service and traveled with him for Hump Pilot Association meetings. They had an active social life with frequent parties with friends. Peggy enjoyed hosting parties including some where she and others were thrown into the swimming pool. Peggy, tired of being drenched, changed into her swim suit and was not thrown in again.

On May 7, 1999, Peggy came home from work to find Irvin had laid down his head on his desk and died. After that she cared for her mother as she declined taking food every day and overseeing care-givers.

Then came the years with George Burns. After the death of both spouses, Peggy and George rekindled their friendship from high school. Together they rode in George's truck to check on the cattle, visit friends or enjoy Sunday dinners at Stewart and Cheryl's house. She loved the time spent with George's great-grandchildren. Ryan and George William in particular would run into the house exclaiming "Row! Where's Row?" For several years, she and George picked Ryan up after school and took him wherever he wanted which turned out to be Dairy Queen. They finally concluded that taking him home for Blue Bell was less expensive than daily ice cream at Dairy Queen! As more and more great-grandchildren arrived, she happily sat on the sofa as the kids climbed all over her. These were happy times for Peggy.

Peggy passed away at her home in Smithville on May 11, 2017. Funeral services were held at Marrs Jones Funeral Home. Peggy was laid to rest next to her husband in Smithville's Oak Hill Cemetery.

In lieu of flowers, donations are requested to the Smithville Public Library or the First Baptist Church.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Peggy Row, please visit our flower store.


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