Although her life ended too soon, Peggy “Peg” Niedzwiecki made a significant impact in the lives of all who were near. She was compassionate and kindhearted with the genuine desire to help others in any way she could. Peg experienced so many of the best things that life has to offer, but what made them so extraordinary was sharing them with the husband she treasured. A longtime member of the community she loved, she was the sort of person everyone seemed to know. Deeply loved, Peg will be forever missed.
It seems only fitting that Peg’s journey began during a time that was as colorful as she was. It was the 1950s when televisions introduced us to shows like “I Love Lucy,.” James Dean made young girls swoon on the silver screen, and by the end of the decade we added Alaska and Hawaii as our 49th and 50th states. It was in 1954 that Jack Edward and Barbara Jean (Hillmann) Tellier were blessed with a baby girl they named Peggy Ann on September 9th in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. She was the youngest of three girls in her family as she was raised alongside her sisters, Laurel and Carole. Peg’s father worked at an electrical equipment manufacturing plant while her mother was a homemaker during Peg’s youngest years. She lived in Glendale next door to her grandparents, and her Grandma Bess would often bring little gifts for Peg. Life was not always easy for her as she suffered with asthma, which required an oxygen tank in her bedroom. She had her first asthma attack on her first birthday.
They later built a house in Jackson, Wisconsin, and as an animal lover she had an Irish Setter who sat in the driveway to wait for her to get dropped off by the school bus. She also would spend time at a neighbor’s farm where she learned to ride and take care of horses. When she was about 12, Peg’s parents divorced, and she moved from Jackson to Milwaukee with her mother and sisters. Her maternal grandmother Eleanora M. Hillmann later came and lived with them.
For the most part Peg was a young girl of her generation. She spent first through sixth grades attending a one-room schoolhouse in Jackson. After moving to Milwaukee, Peg participated in many of the “Hunger Hike’s” that were organized during that time.
Peg’s mother worked at Goodwill Industries. She often made Peg volunteer at their outings and events as they often needed extra help. Although she was forced to help at the time, this set the standard for her heart that beat to help and serve others for the rest of her life. A hard worker, Peg also had a job in addition to her volunteer work. After graduating from Milwaukee Lutheran High School, Peg moved to Green Bay to attend the University of Wisconsin (UWGB) with dreams of becoming a veterinarian. After a year, Peg felt a bit homesick and changed her career goals to focus on helping people. She then attended the University of Wisconsin in Milwaukee, (UWM), living at home and working while earning her BS in social work.
New and exciting changes were in store for Peg when she met the young man of her dreams. His name was Paul Niedzwiecki, and they met through mutual friends who were also dating. Sparks flew right from the start, and they went on to date for two years. With a desire to establish a life together, Peg and Paul were married on September 3, 1977, at St. Mary Czestochowa Church in Milwaukee by Paul’s first cousin, who was a priest.
After a honeymoon spent driving through Canada, the newlyweds returned home. Every year they always had a double celebration in September with their anniversary on the 3rd and Peg’s birthday on the 9th.
The couple bought their first house in Milwaukee approximately a year after they were married, and they eventually moved to Oostburg, buying a hobby farm with a house that dated back to 1857. While living there Peg was able to let her love of animals grow as she had four sheep, which she also bred. Every so often a ewe would give birth to three baby lambs, which left one of the lambs without a good opportunity to feed so Peg would bottle feed that one every four hours until it could eat on its own. She also had a horse, and they got a goat and chickens as well. Peg was always very involved with the animals and made sure they were well cared for. They later moved to Grafton where Peg showcased her beautiful antiques, and they eventually moved back to Milwaukee after the death of Paul’s mother to be closer to his father.
Although she enjoyed being home, Peg also loved traveling. Paul traveled for work, and she often went with him, turning his business trip into a mini vacation. Among their travels they visited places like New York where they saw Ground Zero, Cape Cod and Provincetown, Boston, the Florida Keys, North Carolina, San Diego and San Francisco, the Appalachian and Smokey Mountains and New Harbor, Maine several times, and they usually went to downtown Chicago at Christmastime. They regularly visited Paul’s parents’ cabin/farm house on Fish Lake in Hancock, and on a trip to Tahiti they stayed on the small island of Moorea. They also visited Washington, D.C. where they saw the complete AIDS Quilt laid out on the promenade, and Peg ended up helping a group from China (who spoke no English) set up their portion of the quilt. Together they also enjoyed many other things like movies, parties, music concerts, picnics, county fairs, festivals, gardening, antiquing and especially visiting with friends. They were also members of the Chicago Botanical Gardens and enjoyed the change in seasons throughout the Gardens.
The most important thing in Peg’s life was volunteering her time and expertise. She donated her time to places such as the AIDS Resource Center of Wisconsin, Planned Parenthood, and the Milwaukee County Jail where she gave presentations to the inmates about AIDS prevention and needle safety. Peg held various jobs at Goodwill Industries for over 10 years where she was able to relate to the struggles and hardships of her clients. She was forever looking out for the less fortunate in any way she could.
Around home Peg was always busy. She tenderly cared for her animals, and over the years they always had pets including dogs, cats, birds, horses, and sheep. With an amazing green thumb she also took care of her own gardens but was also able to maintain and expand the 100 year old heritage garden at the farm in Oostburg. Peg also enjoyed interior design and had a deep love for music. In fact, she even had the radio in the barn in Oostburg set to turn on when the lights were turned on! Peg especially loved Elton John, Enya, Mannheim Steamroller and especially John Lennon’s “Imagine.” Later she also enjoyed World music and American Indian flute.
Giving and generous, gracious and genuine, Peg Niedzwiecki was an extraordinary woman to know and love. She blessed everyone she met, and there was nothing she wouldn’t do for others. A friend of Peg’s was a friend for life, and it was easy to see that her husband was her soul mate, her true companion, and her best friend. Life will never be the same without Peg here, but she leaves behind a priceless collection of memories that her friends and loved ones will forever hold near and dear to their hearts.
Peggy Ann Niedzwiecki died on August 6, 2016. Peg’s family includes her husband, Paul; sisters, Laurel (Dean) Hartley and Carole Letellier; and nieces, other relatives, and friends. Peg was preceded in death by her parents, Jack Tellier and Barbara Tellier.
Family and friends will gather at Wisconsin Memorial Park – Chapel of the Flowers, 13235 W. Capitol Dr. on Friday, August 19, 2016, from 11:00 a.m. until time of the Memorial Service at 12:00 Noon. In lieu of flowers, memorials to Doctors without Borders or The Literacy Center of Wisconsin. Arrangements provided by Suminski LifeStory Funeral Homes, Suminski / Weiss (414) 276-5122. www.SuminskiFuneralHome.com.