No holiday, birthday, or anniversary was complete until there was a card in the mailbox from Peggy Connell. No matter how busy life was she found a way to send cards for special celebrations or to comfort a friend that was sick or grieving. Peggy, with her “card ministry,” shared more than 30,000 cards with thousands of people through the years.
Early in the morning on Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2021, at the age of 82, Peggy accepted an invitation to heaven. Her new mission takes her to a wonderful place where she will reconnect with loved ones, sing in the choir and enjoy long walks.
Peggy Louise Eady was born in Bremen, Georgia, on Valentine’s Day 1938 to humble, hard-working parents Henry Brock Eady and Velma Estelle Smith Eady. Peggy has three siblings — Luray Smith, Dena Eady Baker and Sam Eady. She grew up on a small family farm and both parents worked in Bremen. There were always chores to do, which instilled in Peggy the value of hard work. Growing up in a Christ-centered home, the Eadys shared their faith with others through music. Peggy sang in the choir directed by her father and her mother and sister shared their talents on the piano and organ.
Peggy graduated from Bremen High School in 1955 as salutatorian. She was active in a variety of activities including vice president of the Senior Class, secretary and treasurer of Beta Club, secretary of Tri-Hi-Y, business manager of the annual staff, and president of the Safety Council. She also worked for Hubbard Slacks and as a soda jerk at Garrett’s Drug Store.
She continued her studies at the University of Georgia in Athens graduating, with a Bachelor of Science degree in secondary education in 1959. Peggy was a university resident student assistan, transfer aid guide, cabinet member of the Women’s Student Government Association, and president of Candler and Clark Howell dormitories.
Peggy was a very proud UGA fan. It was there that she met her husband, retired Navy Petty Officer Jerry Connell. They met at St. Simons Island on a class trip. A friend set them up on a blind date, where they heard a washboard band, had dinner, danced, and spent time with friends. And over the next year, they became best friends.
On Aug. 29, 1959, Peggy was united in marriage to Gerald “Jerry” Francis Connell of Charleston, South Carolina, at Our Lady of Perpetual Help (now Kennedy Chapel, on the University of West Georgia Campus in Carrollton). Peggy and Jerry lived in married housing at UGA while Jerry finished his degree. Peggy taught high school English and business education at Danielsville High School. Peggy and Jerry were blessed with four children, Catherine, Cindy, Cecelia, and Cronan, all born at St. Mary’s in Athens.
In 1964, the couple moved to Monroe, where they made their home for 56 years. They purchased the Credit Bureau of Winder and Monroe. Peggy and Jerry printed business documents for the Credit Bureau, and this led to the start of Connell Printing. Peggy witnessed the deep cultural changes that were altering the role of women in the ’60s. As the culture shifted, Peggy went from being the bookkeeper to office manager to chief financial officer.
Along with managing multiple businesses and raising four children, Peggy found time to contribute her leadership skills to her church and the community. She was a director, safety committee member and president of Pilot Club of Monroe; was honored as Pilot of the Year; volunteered as a poll worker, 4-H volunteer leader, Brownie and Girl Scout leader; and supported her children by being active in the PTA.
Peggy was a devoted spiritual leader of St. Anna’s Catholic Church, where she taught religious education, was a lector, sacristan, extraordinary minister of Holy Communion, catechist, involved in RCIA, sang in the choir, and served on the Parish Council. Peggy shared her faith with others at Cursillo retreats as a team coordinator, team member, laywoman, Cursillo leader, and sponsor. Peggy and Jerry hosted statewide Cursillo reunions at their home, which they call Freedom, a place where you are free to be yourself.
In 1983, Jerry entered into classes to become a permanent deacon of the Archdiocese of Atlanta. Peggy attended every class with him during the three-year formation program. A deacon can’t answer this call without his wife. They must be called together for it to be a true calling. Peggy and Jerry had a wonderful bond … “one in hope, one in desire, one in discipline, one in the same service.” After Jerry was ordained in 1987, the two of them continued to serve in many ministries.
Peggy dedicated her life to taking care of others. She was the primary caregiver for her mother-in-law, Evelyn, during her Alzheimer’s years. Peggy had a gift for friendship and befriended people in all walks and stations of life. She was a gracious and elegant hostess and throughout the years celebrated with thousands of friends in her home. Peggy was known as the first to welcome a newcomer and made the best potluck dishes with homemade spaghetti, California coleslaw and the sausage strata egg dish being family favorites. For 40-plus years, Peggy played bridge on Thursday nights with a group of dear girlfriends.
She loved to travel. Their excursions took them fly fishing, deep-sea fishing, seashell hunting and vacationing around the U.S. and in Eleuthera, Croatia, Ireland, Switzerland, Italy and the Holy Land, to name a few.
She enjoyed gardening not only for its beauty but as a haven for hummingbirds and butterflies. As her grandchildren were growing up, their friends were always welcome to their home at Freedom. Known to her grandchildren as “Mimi” and “Mama Peggy” they often joined her for her daily stroll.
In 2005, Peggy was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. Jerry and Peggy lived at Freedom until 2016 when her health declined. They moved to Sioux Falls, South Dakota, to be under the care of their daughter, Catherine, and family. Peggy was able to spend her last hours in their home with family. After living for more than 15 years with the terrible disease, Peggy no longer suffers.
Peggy is survived by her children Catherine (Tim) Forsch, Sioux Falls, Cindy (Hayne) Palmer, Monroe, Cecelia Smith, Hampton, New Hampshire, and Cronan (Theresa) Connell, Monroe; her brother Sam (Jerry) Eady, Carrollton; sister-in-law, Jewell Smith of Carrollton; grandchildren, Jason Forsch and Lauren Forsch of Sioux Falls, Luke Palmer, Joseph Palmer, and Hannah Palmer of Monroe, Adam (Elise) Smith of Tucson, Arizona, Alex (Kayce) Smith of Alpharetta, Georgia, Patrick (Katie) Connell of Loganville, and Elizabeth (Ricardo) Suárez of Orlando, Florida; eight great-grandchildren; nieces and nephews Sharon (Rickey) Bates of Tallapoosa, Georgia; Rhonda (Edward) Wiggins of Bowdon, Georgia, Renee Eady (Nancy Williams) of Inman, South Carolina, Brock (Lisa) Eady of Carrollton, and Clay Baker of Marietta; and many friends. All were cherished and proudly displayed in photos under the glass on her dresser.
Peggy is reunited with her husband, Jerry Connell; parents, Brock and Velma Eady; sister Dena Baker; brother-in-law Bodie Baker; brother Luray Smith; in-laws Charles and Evelyn Connell; and special friend Minnie Mae Gaither.
Friends can visit with Peggy’s family at St. Anna’s Catholic Church in Monroe from 8:30 until 9:45 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 13. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the funeral Mass and interment will be private. A livestream of the Mass officiated by Father John C. Kieran can be viewed at 10 a.m. on St. Anna’s Catholic Church Facebook page.
The family suggests that gifts in Peggy’s memory be made to St. Anna’s Catholic Church at 1401 Alcovy St., Monroe, GA 30655; the Pilot Club of Monroe in care of Everett’s at 1035 W. Spring St., Monroe, GA 30655; or your favorite charity. And to carry on Peggy’s legacy, consider taking time to drop a card to a loved one or friend that could use some cheer. To share stories about Peggy mail to the Connell Family at 2185 Highway 11 NW, Monroe, GA 30656.