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Margaret Laverne “Pegi” Houck

funeral homes Johnstown, PA

Margaret Laverne “Pegi” Houck, 95, passed away December 15, 2021. She was born on April 17, 1926 in Hastings, Pennsylvania to Austin James and Gertrude (Kline) Houck in her homestead on Fourth Avenue. Her father started the weekly newspaper in Hastings, the North Cambria News in 1903. Her mother founded the Hastings Public Library in 1953. Pegi was the fourth of five children, Robert Clarence, Mary Camille, Patricia June and Beverly Ann. After graduation from Hastings high school, Pegi attended Beaver College, while attending she led her class to victory all four years in the song contest and she received a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree in 1949. She received a scholarship to the Wayman Adams School of Portrait Painting in Elizabethtown, New York and a gift of one semester scholarship to the Stella Elkins Tyler School of Fine Art at Temple University. She also received a scholarship to the Philadelphia Print Club. And she was also given a gift of free passage on a cargo ship to and from Rome, Italy where she studied Renaissance art for nine months. In 1963, she received a master’s degree in art education from California State University in Los Angeles. Pegi married Melvern Krehbiel Leisy and they had two sons, Derek and David Kurt. Melvern was a physician and a pilot, and he was taking the boys for a holiday trip to Mulege, Mexico on May 29, 1965, when the plane crashed and there were no survivors. Derek and Kurt were 14 and 12 years old respectively. Pegi then went back to Rome, Italy and maintained an art studio there for a year and lived in Amsterdam, Netherlands before returning to Santa Barbara, California where she painted a commissioned portrait of Virginia Watters. In 1975 she returned to her homestead in Hastings, Pennsylvania to care for her ailing mother. In 1989 she designed the logo for the Hastings Centennial book. She also created and hand painted the Cresson Lake Playhouse outdoor signage that was displayed from 1978 until the early 2000’s. Her work can be found in many private collections and in the permanent collections of Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art in Loretto, Pennsylvania and Naropa University in Boulder, Colorado. Throughout her life she held many different jobs. She was a musician in a dance band, bearing inspector at the Cleveland Graphite Bronze Company during World War II, waitress, assistant librarian, meter maid, school bus driver, member of the Hastings Library Board, art teacher, music teacher, train dispatcher for the Baltimore-Ohio Railroad, a church choir director and she also wrote and illustrated children’s books. Over the last nearly eighty years, Pegi has created an extremely diverse body of work. She was an explorer in many ways.   Her subject matter, style of painting and mediums are all very different. She has worked with photography, lithography, etching, pastel, charcoal, egg-tempera, acrylic, watercolor, gouache, and oil. She had mastered those mediums, her techniques and her subjects. Pegi was a very kindhearted and an extremely generous person. She donated to causes for the protection of animals and was a great lover of cats. Pegi will be buried in her family plot at St. Boniface Cemetery, St Boniface, PA along with her dear mother, father, and siblings. A memorial service will be held at the family’s convenience at a later date.

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