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Welcome to the memorial page for

Peggy Jeanette (Metzger) Bair

April 30, 1932 ~ May 17, 2017 (age 85)

The Piano Brothers
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Peggy Jeanette Bair died on May 17, 2017, in her home, with her husband, Russ, her daughter, Jeanette, her son, James, and his partner, Ryan, and her dear friend, Jan, by her side.  She died, as she chose to live:  with grace, dignity and humor, surrounded by loved ones and by her beautiful garden next to Sonoma Creek.  Above all she died expressing a profound gratitude for the incredible abundance that life offered her.  She was 85 years old. 

She was born Peggy J. Metzger in Longmont, Colorado, on April 30, 1932, the daughter of Jim & Verna Metzger, and sister to three brothers: Dale (Sam), Gordon and Ken.  She always loved school and had the grades to show for it. Completing high school in Longmont, she went on to attend Nebraska Wesleyan, before graduating from the University of Denver with her bachelor’s in 1954.  Peggy was a Fulbright Scholar and Danforth Foundation grant recipient, accolades that took her to Cleveland and Chicago for work following her undergraduate studies.  She returned to school in 1967 to obtain a Master’s in Education from Stanford University. For her entire life she celebrated and sought out opportunities for learning and education in all its many forms.  Her constant message to her children, her grandson, Alexander, and any who would listen: “Learning is FUN and you can learn ANYTHING you put your mind to!” Limitations did not interest her. 

Peggy and Russ met in 1955 at a party on Ocean Beach in San Francisco.  She was splashing in the frigid ocean waves on a typically foggy San Francisco day, which Russ thought was a sure sign of insanity.  Later they walked down the beach together and he took her hand. Peggy was fond of saying that it was his firm and gentle grasp on that first walk together that told her he was special. Thus began a lifelong love affair and a marriage of 59 years.  As any who have known them will attest, their relationship never ceased to be one that was mutually adoring and playful. Peggy believed in the dream of a “forever love” and found it in Russ.  She missed no opportunity to tell the world how grateful she was for him and for their life together. 

Peggy worked hard her whole life.  After arriving in California, she worked in administration for the First Congregational Church in San Francisco, and then in other church offices around northern California as she and Russ settled into a life together. She received her California teaching credential in 1959 and began teaching elementary school, while also starting a family.  The arrival of James (1961) and Jeanette (1964) did not slow her down professionally. She was the working ‘super mom’ before that stereotype existed, cooking family meals, holding elaborate birthday and holiday celebrations for her kids, nurturing her brood, while also loving her work. In 1968 the family moved from the Peninsula to Sonoma Valley, so that Peggy could take a job at Sonoma State Hospital (Sonoma Developmental Center, today).  She began as Assistant Program Director for a single adolescent residential ward and went on to become Director of Program 10A, a California State program for developmentally disabled residents that piloted innovations in the living environments, educational opportunities and physical therapy modalities for children on four wards, most of whom had been institutionalized their entire life.  The work was groundbreaking and paved the way for similar innovations throughout the State Hospital system. 

Peggy’s enthusiasm for the work at Sonoma State was supported by the strong professional and personal bond she shared with her sister-in-law, Reva Metzger. They jointly managed the hospital programs for nearly 16 years, sharing a philosophical approach to the work and the relationships therein. They worked, played, traveled, celebrated holidays together and supported one another through life’s ups and downs, eventually living across the street from each other at Park Creek Village.  Peggy felt a deep spiritual connection to Reva (‘the sister I never had,” she would say), and her death in 2013 was a tremendous loss to her.  The decades-old oak dedicated to Reva is framed in Russ and Peggy’s living room window and was a source of great comfort in her final days. 

In the early ’80s, Peggy embraced a life-changing transition into a second career in real estate.  She had a passion for Sonoma County land and was hugely drawn to the idea that in this profession she could spend endless hours driving country roads, while, in her words, “helping people find their dream.”  Her success in real estate surpassed her own expectations, and she soon came to be regarded as a leader in the Sonoma Valley real estate community.  According to colleague and friend Tina Shone, “By being a broker/owner of a real estate firm, she broke a glass ceiling and kept it open too.  In our industry she told/delivered the truth no matter the outcome; she raised the industry bar.”  Peggy served on the Board of Directors of the Association of Realtors and was instrumental in forging share agreements between Sonoma, Marin and Napa counties, which led to the formation of the North Bay Association of Realtors, an organization which still guides North Bay real estate practitioners today. Between 1999 and 2007, she wrote a weekly real estate column for the Sonoma Index-Tribune, marrying her love of the Valley, her passion for real estate, and her talent with the written word.

Her success allowed Peg & Russ the freedom to travel extensively. Their many trips included a family sojourn to Turkey (where her parents had lived for many years), hikes in Tibet, elephant rides in Thailand, rafting in Alaska, bike rides and river cruises in Northern Europe, treks in Nepal, multiple trips to China, sea passages to Central and South America, train rides across Canada and frequent journeys throughout the Western United States. In her final days, Peg reminisced frequently and lucidly about these trips.  To have seen this much of the world, and to have done it with Russ, was a genuinely treasured part of her life.

Peggy was raised in a musical family, and music was a constant presence for her.  She sang in church and school choirs throughout her youth, played the French horn in college marching bands, and was accomplished at both piano and guitar. Music was always playing in her home, and she raised her children and grandson with exposure to every form, from classical, to folk, to pop, to jazz.  She continued to sing with the Sonoma Valley Vintage Singers well into her later years, and privately with family and friends whenever the moment moved her. 

In college she’d garnered the nickname “Pollyanna Peg,” and it stuck. She would laugh at this, because she knew how true it was.  Peggy celebrated potential before it had been realized. She was rewarded with an abundance of family, friends and colleagues who knew she believed in them, and a life filled with the richness, the texture, and the variety she had always aspired to have. She will be forever missed. 

The family wishes to give special thanks to Jan and Ed Davis for their amazing friendship and support over the years and especially during the final weeks and days of Peggy’s life.  We would not be whole but for your love.  We also want to thank Peggy & Russ’ many friends and neighbors who helped with care, good food and positive vibes during her illness.  Finally, we want to thank Hospice by the Bay for their consistently professional and compassionate care. 

A memorial for the community will be held on Sunday, June 4th, at 3pm, at Park Creek Village (end of Andrieux Street in Sonoma).  A reception will follow.  In lieu of flowers, the family has asked that donations be made in memory of Peggy to the Sonoma County Land Trust (www.sonomalandtrust.org/give/tribute_gift.html)  or Sonoma Ecology Center (www.sonomaecologycenter.org/support). 


Charitable donations may be made to:

Sonoma County Land Trust
Web: http://www.sonomalandtrust.org/give/tribute_gift.html

Sonoma Ecology Center
Web: http://www.sonomaecologycenter.org/support



 Service Information

Memorial Service
Sunday
June 4, 2017

3:00 PM
Park Creek Village
699 Andrieux St.
Sonoma, CA 95476


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