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News 04/17/2024
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Peggy Alley Smith

Peggy Alley died on December 27 at her home in Albuquerque. Devoted family members, including her loving husband, Thomas Walter Smith, were near her side. She had spent recent years living with the inevitability of ovarian cancer—a terrible, incurable disease. What was expected to take her away within months, did not in fact for years, allowing her unexpected time to settle her affairs and to nurture and reinvigorate her relationships with her partner, her mother, her siblings, and her offspring, which was an opportunity for which we each grew evermore thankful, while now loathing its end.

Born Mary Margaret on November 11, 1945, the eldest of seven children of Jack and Mary Jean Alley, Peggy grew up in Salt Lake City and Bountiful, Utah, but resided most of her life in New Mexico. She bore a son, Michael Crostic, and a daughter, Sarah Crostic Larence, with her first husband, Bob Crostic. They survive her, as do her stepchildren, Neal Fachan, Stephanie Hands, and Ric Smith; Stephanie’s husband, James Hands; their son, Eynon Arthur Hands; Peggy’s son‐in‐law, Joseph Larence; her grandchildren, Zachary Ambrose Esquibel‐Crostic, Jesse Benjamin Larence, and Megan Marie Larence; her granddaughter‐in‐law, Ellie Johnson Larence; her great‐grandson, George Henry Larence; and her adoring siblings, Susan Ehlers, John Alley, Diana Alley, George Alley,Jeffrey Alley, and Thomas Alley.

Peggy valued above all her close relationships with her kids and grandkids. Remaining part of her daily life, all of them have recently lived near her and come by regularly for her company and often for games and puzzles. They and Peggy’s late‐in‐life romance with her husband Tom enriched her later years immeasurably. Among the many experiences they shared, Tom and Peggy traveled extensively, particularly in Europe and the USA, as she had done earlier with her parents and sisters. Getting to know new places was, along with being part of a large, loving family, something Peggy especially treasured. She yearned specifically for oceans, lakes, rivers, and forests. Other activities she loved were reading (and more reading), watching foreign films, eating good food, being with her diverse set of friends, writing, and games of Scrabble, which Peggy played competitively, whether at tournaments or with friends and family. As a writer, she fulfilled a lifelong ambition by self‐publishing two novels‐‐‐the dramatic tale of a polygamous ancestor and a mystery set in a hospital maternity center. Delivering babies was among the things Peggy loved most and something with which she was involved for much of her career. After graduating with a BA from Utah State University and following short stints teaching French and English at Box Elder High School in Brigham City, Utah, and managing a Title One program for Apache children in Ruidoso, New Mexico, she set out to become a midwife. After her first marriage ended, though, raising two kids as a single mother and a lack of midwifery schools led her to forgo that ambition. Instead, she received an Associate Degree in Nursing from the University of Albuquerque in 1976 and first worked, for seven years, as an RN at Presbyterian Hospital. A highlight of her professional life came in 1984 with the chance to help open the first family birthing center in Albuquerque at St. Joseph’s West Mesa Hospital. There she spent eleven years caring for laboring women and newborns. Subsequently, when her itch for new places caught up with her, she worked as a traveling nurse and in various positions in the Presbyterian Healthcare system.

Who Peggy Alley was cannot be captured adequately by an obituary, any more than the infectiousness of her laugh can be captured by a photograph of her smile. She was smart, inquisitive, and aware, often wise, and had the knowledge and experience to know what she faced when she received a diagnosis of ovarian cancer. Although she eschewed battle tropes for what was undoubtedly an ultimate struggle, she in her capable, independent, take‐charge way did her best to make the most of the time she had left: to learn more, to read more books, see more films, visit more places, commune more with family and friends, including during more than one expected‐to‐be‐last get together, and to share with those lucky enough to have loved her and been bound to her by love or blood, more of her interest, concern, and care—an open hug that lasted long enough to get us here and maybe even farther along, left though we are with a boundless sense of loss.

Peggy Alley’s family plans to hold a private memorial gathering on an undetermined future date.

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