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A tribute to Peggy Allen, who died in 2005

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This column is about my late wife, Peggy, who passed away 14 years ago on Nov. 1, 2005.

Instead of a memorial ad like we have been running each year in this newspaper, son Jimmy suggested I write my column about her. Here is part of her story.

Peggy Anne Garren was a graduate of Wake Forest College in 1952 — four years before the school moved to Winston-Salem and grew to be a university.

We met in 1953. She had been hired by Wake Forest Baptist Church as youth director, and she started bringing the church’s weekly news to us at The Wake Weekly building on the corner of Brooks and North Elm Streets across from Keith’s Supermarket (now The Forks Cafeteria).

I had seen Peggy walking on South White Street and thought I’d like to meet her. When she came into the office, I began a conversation. Each week, I looked forward to her coming by the office. We seemed to be hitting it off quite well in our weekly talks.

One afternoon she told me she would be going with youth to the N.C. Baptist Assembly at Fort Caswell and would be away for two weeks. She said she would miss her visits with me.

Uh, oh! I was immediately heartbroken, thinking about missing our inspiring weekly talks. I wished I could go with her. Of course I knew this was impossible, but I had another thought: I would mark on my calendar the day she would return, and I would call her for a date.

The day came to call her. But there were two problems. One, we had no private place in our 20-by-30 foot shop, and I didn’t want to make the call where anyone else could hear it. I decided to wait to wait until 6 p.m., when everyone else was out of the office. The second problem was my nerves. I needed enough courage to actually ask her out for a date.

I watched the wall clock closely as the minute hand clicked toward 12, signifying it was 6 p.m. When the minute hand reached straight up, I dialed the phone. I was thrilled to have her accept a date for Saturday night.

We decided to see “The Glenn Miller Story” at Cameron Village. I didn’t know at the time, but June Allyson was starring, and she was Peggy’s favorite star. James Stewart was the male star, and he was my favorite.

That was the beginning of a relationship that lasted 52 years. During that time, she and I raised four boys while working full-time at the newspaper. She made a name for herself by working hard for the newspaper, and she was chosen for the Emma C. McKinney Award by the National Newspaper Association.

Soon after her death, the Wake Forest Community Council decided to begin a lifetime achievement award named in memory of Peggy. The annual recipient is named during the annual community Christmas dinner.

The next year, the UNC School of Journalism honored us both by naming us to the N.C. Journalism Hall of Fame. We were the first couple ever selected.

Just think, the journey with her began with a phone call one evening. It was the best phone call I ever made!

Bob Allen, publisher emeritus of The Wake Weekly, invites comments at 919-556-3059 or robertwallen29@gmail.com.


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