It would be hard to find a more authentic Saugertiesian than Peg Nau. She was born at Bonesteel’s Sanatorium on Main St. and lived on Clermont St. during her early years. Her father bought the back end of the property occupied by Bonesteel’s on Division St. where Peg lived out her girlhood literally on the property on which she was born.
After a fight with cancer in 2003, Peg, a joyful survivor, declares that every day is absolutely “perfect.”
Indicative of her positive attitude, Peg talks about the four hairs on her head which did not fall out subsequent to chemotherapy. “I shampooed those hairs every day and thanked them for staying,” she said. “Every once in a while I’d run a comb by them so they wouldn’t forget the feeling of being groomed.”
Rather than being the center of her life story, Peg treats cancer as an aside to a life full of service to the Saugerties community and one which includes the creative actions of painting and teaching others to paint.
“I always painted and drew in school,” says Peg. “But I was always corrected on what I was doing. I listened to others and produced what they wanted, not what I wanted. Surviving cancer gave me the courage to paint for myself. I wanted to try my hand at a type of decorative painting developed by Donna Dewberry. I studied with her and now teach the style to others. I’ve taught decorative painting four times at Ulster Community College, give regular classes in the community, will be doing a demonstration at the Mum Festival [note: interview was before last Sunday’s festival], and am teaching this year for Lifespring.”
A member of the League of Women Voters since 1989, Peg joined after attending a Candidate Forum sponsored by the organization. She felt that antagonistic questions at the forum violated the League’s history of providing an opportunity for candidates to have a fair and unbiased hearing. She joined the organization to contribute to its impartiality, and has been active ever since.
When she joined the League, Peg had been the receiver of taxes for the town of Saugerties for two of her 25 years of service. At the time, school taxes had to be paid in one payment while other taxes could be remitted in two.
The financial burden that this regulation imposed, especially on low-wage workers and those with fixed incomes, motivated Peg and other League members to petition the county and School Board to allow school taxes to be paid in two payments. After almost two years of effort, the policy was changed.
Peg also spearheaded a League-sponsored information meeting during the town’s revaluation of all properties. State and county representatives from the Real Property Tax Office as well as the local tax assessor were asked to present clear information on how to grieve a reassessment resulting in higher taxes. This gave residents the knowledge and the skills to challenge revaluation of their property without having to hire expensive outside specialists.
In addition to the League, Peg is a member and past president of the Kiwanis Club and active in its charitable activities. She belongs to the Monday Club, for ongoing learning and community service, as well as the Society of Little Gardens, which beautifies the village with flower baskets and seasonal décor. This year, she is teaching a painting course as a volunteer instructor for Lifespring.
What do you like most about this community?
There is something very comforting about the mountains and the valley. I see them when I bring my granddaughter to the same Lion’s Club playground and pool that I used as a child and feel doubly blessed.
How do you feel about the changes in Saugerties?
The village is beautiful and revitalized. The new folks who have joined us make more lines of color and interest in the tapestry that is Saugerties. The library is a warm and comforting gem which makes me proud that we funded its fantastic expansion.
What’s the biggest issue Saugerties needs to address?
Tax increases which make it difficult for people to stay in their homes.
What fault do you have the least tolerance for?
Road rage. What is this need to rush?
The most tolerance?
Others’ need to be right. I can let them be correct and wait my turn to have my ideas heard.
If heaven exists, what would you like to say to St. Peter when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?
You had me worried, but I think I had a lot of fun.