Peggy Loux is a woman with a purpose

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Peggy Loux received the Agency on Aging Community Service Award on Monday.  Photo by David Dudley
Peggy Loux received the Agency on Aging Community Service Award on Monday. Photo by David Dudley

copyright the Chronicle November 19, 2014

by David Dudley

JAY — Margaret “Peggy” Loux, who is now serving her fifth year on the Jay Select Board, received the Agency on Aging Community Service Award Monday.

According to Ms. Loux, everybody has got to work, and everybody has got to have a purpose. What is Peggy Loux’s purpose?

Though her various activities would suggest otherwise, she claims to be a shy person.

“I don’t like the spotlight,” Ms. Loux said, from the meeting room at the Jay Town Hall Tuesday. “I’m not a spokesperson. I plan. I put things together. I raise money. That’s what I do.”

Despite her aversion, Ms. Loux talks the talk. And she is driven to walk the walk.

Since learning about volunteering from her partner of 32 years, the late Doug James, she has helped with various fund-raising efforts.

“I grew up in Nutley, New Jersey,” she said. “They didn’t just volunteer there. It wasn’t until I came here, to Jay that I learned about volunteering.”

She began by raising funds for a dear friend, Renee Sargeant, who was diagnosed with stage four breast cancer in 1997.

“We raised $3,000 to help make what was left of her life comfortable,” Ms. Loux said. “Two years later, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I took stock of my life, and decided I needed to give back.”

Ms. Loux started small.

“We started by doing bingo, to raise funds for the fire department,” she said. “And I would bring the firefighters coffee, water and sandwiches when they would go out on calls.

“They seemed almost invariably to happen late at night. Rain. Ice. Snow. You name it. We’d go out there and make sure they had what they needed.”

Since then, she helped to establish the Jay Focus Group (JFG). That group has raised funds for the Jay Area Food Shelf, the Jay Volunteer Fire Department, the Jay-Westfield School’s enrichment programs, including a scholarship fund, and the Jay Community Center, to name a few. She also had a hand in the Jay Summer Fest and the Jay August West Music Festival, which saw 60 craftspeople, and over 3,000 people.

Ms. Loux, who moved to Jay in 1971, worked at Jay Peak until 1999 when she underwent chemotherapy.

“I had a friend who owned the Christmas Loft,” she said. “She offered me 20 hours a week, so I decided to do that instead.”

She never liked the fast pace of city life. She said she never wanted to leave Jay. The slower pace of life, she claims, has allowed her to appreciate life more.

“My friends are my support group,” she said. “I can be a homebody, but I like to socialize. Work is one way to do that. I also like to travel.”

On her travels, Ms. Loux has touched down in Hawaii, Florida, France, and Italy. In September of 2001, she planned a trip to Las Vegas with a group of childhood friends. What began as a three-day weekend dissolved into nine days of limbo.

“We were in the taxi cab when the planes crashed into the towers in Manhattan,” she said. “When we arrived at the airport, they said ‘No flights today.’ We turned around, and went back to the hotel.

“It was surreal. We spent the next six days on hold with the airlines, next to the swimming pool. People were walking around in a daze. Las Vegas was shut down. One friend’s husband worked for Con Ed, and he was scheduled to visit the towers that day. It wasn’t until later that night that we discovered that he was okay.”

Another reminder that life isn’t to be taken for granted.

“I believe that, when you have the opportunity to do something, you ought to,” Ms. Loux said. “In the past six years my friends and I have lost loved ones. We live in the moment, because you never know what tomorrow brings.”

Though she claims she doesn’t like politics, she will run for a sixth term on the select board.

“I can’t quit,” she said. “It’s hard to get people to do these jobs. It takes a lot of time. And it’s not a position where you make friends. For every friend I make, I’ve unknowingly made an enemy.”

One stance she takes that puts her at odds with others is her support of the Jay Peak expansion.

“We’ve lost businesses since the 1980s,” Ms. Loux said. “Bill Stenger has had this vision for a long time, and he’s worked hard to make it happen. People say that they don’t want Jay to become like Stowe. I agree. But we’ve got to move forward. We can’t stagnate.”

Though Ms. Loux loves Jay, she believes that there’s room for improvement. Like many Jay residents, she doesn’t want to see the town lose its identity.

“People don’t know I’m shy. But I guess I grew into my mouth.”

Asked what her purpose is, Ms. Loux gave pause.

“To improve the lives of others,” she said, finally.

contact David Dudley at [email protected]

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