of Hot Springs, AR
December 8, 1933 - November 16, 2021
Margaret Yates Harris, known to all as Peggy, passed away Tuesday, Nov. 16, at CHI St. Vincent Mercy Hospital. Peggy, who made friends throughout Arkansas in her nearly 88 years of life, worked for then-Governor Bill Clinton's staff as executive director of Keep Arkansas Beautiful in the late 1980s until Bill's inauguration as president in 1993, and then worked the rest of her professional life in Heber Springs for Patti and Dick Upton's Aromatique Inc. as public relations director.She was preceded in death by her husband, Dr. Sam C. Harris, a Pine Bluff dentist who died in 1983. Peggy was born in Winchester, Va., on Dec. 8, 1933, the third child and only daughter of Charles James Yates Jr. and Margaret McDonald Yates (also known as Peggy), who predeceased her. She was also predeceased by her brothers, Charles J. "Chuck" Yates III and John Alexander "Jack" Yates, as well as her first cousin, Henry Little Baxley Jr., who was like a brother to her. Her sister-in-law, Patricia Chapman, Sam's sister, became like a sister to her as well and they spent many years together until Pat's passing in 2018. Also, Peggy's devoted son-in-law, John W. Sanders, Jr. of Hot Springs, who died in 2007.She is survived by a daughter, Julie Sanders of Hot Springs, sons Jim Harris (wife Tricia) of Little Rock and Stephen Harris (wife Loretta) of Benton; grandchildren William Sanders, Sarah Sanders, Scott Harris, Catherine Harris and Sam Harris; and Henry Baxley's widow, Ursula, of Marshall, Va., and Hen and Ursula's children John (wife Ruth) Baxley and two boys, and Ruth (husband Paul) Prideaux and one daughter. Everyone who worked for Peggy at home through the years became her family. Such was the case with Beckey Haight and Cheryl Kapella, who tended to her in her final years. Dr. Tim English, her Hot Springs physician, was also someone she considered a blessing.She also leaves her cherished rescue dog Charlie and sometimes antagonistic cat Miss Kitty, two of a long line of beloved pets that decorated Peggy's life all the way back from her childhood growing up on a farm, The Cove, outside Hume, Va.Her family moved to Arlington, Va., to be closer to her parents' jobs in Washington, D.C., in the 1940s, and Peggy was a 1952 graduate of Washington-Lee High School, where she often told of being a senior cheerleader alongside Shirley Beaty, who would become famous as the actress Shirley MacLaine. Peggy attended college at George Washington University in D.C. before embarking for Kansas City, Mo., where she became a flight attendant for Trans World Airlines, serving on their famed Lockheed Constellation "TriStar" airplanes. She made many friends and shared a swanky apartment with other flight attendants in The Plaza in Kansas City, which left her many good memories. But the most important item she took from Kansas City was a husband, Sam, who was attending dental school at then-Kansas City University (now UMKC Dental School). After turning down a couple of his proposals (his story), she finally relented and they wed on May 19,1956, in Kansas City, then moved that summer to Pine Bluff, where Sam set up his dental practice. Peggy worked an office job at International Paper Co. after their arrival, and then landed what for her was the perfect job as a co-host of a teen dance TV show broadcast daily from KATV, Channel 7's Pine Bluff studio. Before long, though, she had three children to raise and mostly stayed home for a spell, though she also found time for her bridge club and involvement in the Junior Auxiliary/Junior League of Pine Bluff, for which she served a term as president. With the children all teenagers and in school by the 1970s, she went to work in Sam's office as manager. They moved the office from 1107 1/2 Cherry St. to West 42nd across from Jefferson Regional Medical Center and enjoyed several years of working together with the practice until Sam's sudden illness forced his retirement in 1983.Sam's passing may have left Peggy alone, but it opened new professional doors for her, and she in turn blossomed. She was named director of Keep Pine Bluff Beautiful in the mid-1980s, which then led to Governor Clinton selecting her for his staff to run the statewide organization, Keep Arkansas Beautiful, and then on to Aromatique for the next two decades.Peggy and Sam were part of the Happy Cookers dining and social club in Pine Bluff that included several other couples. Peggy loved to cook, but even more so loved Sam's hobby of gourmet cooking, which eventually was passed on to their children. Easters and Mother's Days most certainly called for Eggs Benedict cooked by her sons, while the winter holidays had to have at least one day devoted to beef tenderloin and Sam's own famous Bearnaise sauce recipe.Peggy and Sam, who honeymooned in Scottsdale, Ariz., in 1956, loved traveling to destinations known for cuisine as San Francisco, New Orleans and Paris. And Peggy was annually loading the three kids into the Impala or the Buick station wagon for summer jaunts up to Arlington, Virginia to visit all her relatives. She gave her children valuable learning experiences by visiting the Smithsonian museums and zoo, as well as trips to historical sites throughout Northern Virginia, not to mention the many stops along the way between Pine Bluff and Arlington. She continued her travels after Sam's passing, and Aromatique provided many opportunities to journey to markets and meetings in such destinations as Dallas and New York City. In recent weeks, she imagined taking the family on one more trip to the Big Apple. She also loved the beaches, be it the ones she visited for many years on the mid-Atlantic coast, or in more recent years on the Gulf Coast. While cooking on her own became difficult, she still spent many afternoons watching endless cooking shows on Food Network or PBS while enjoying her glass of white wine, which she was still demanding to have in her final hours. She also became Facebook's busiest user, and even found her way to Tweet occasionally. She loved a good movie, but stuck mostly with the Hallmark Channel holiday films recently. When the Razorbacks were on, in any sport, she was watching. While she fought her final, brief illness, some of her last words to her family were, "I'm fighting. If Arkansas can do it, I can."Peggy loved this time of year and the upcoming holidays. Christmas was especially a festive time. She loved Christmas hymns and secular holiday songs. She grew up playing the piano and generally loved all types of music, and she passed that appreciation on to her children.She was a compassionate soul who gave generously to her church and other organizations. She felt a strong empathy toward others in need. Though living 1,000 miles away, she headed to Virginia and took care of her father and a brother during their extended illnesses in the 1970s, and she kept her mother close afterward, moving her to Pine Bluff in the mid-1970s.Peggy was an Episcopalian, with memberships at Trinity Episcopal Church in Pine Bluff, St. Francis Church at Heber Springs, and St. Luke's in Hot Springs, not to mention her "honorary membership" with National Cathedral in D.C. during the past two years via YouTube. Peggy was always active in her church, giving her time as a Sunday school teacher, orchestrating the children's Christmas Pageant at Trinity, a member of the Episcopal Church Women, and many other activities.It was through St. Francis that Peggy met one of her closest spiritual companions and friends, the Reverend Dr. Marti Dalby, who will lead a memorial service for Peggy on Wednesday, December 1 at 2:00 p.m. at Anthony Chapel of Garvan Woodland Gardens in Hot Springs, Arkansas. Memorials for Peggy may be sent to St. Francis Episcopal Church of Heber Springs, Arkansas or the Outreach Ministry of St. Luke's Episcopal Church of Hot Springs, Arkansas. Arrangements by Roller-Chenal Funeral Home.
How very sad I am to just learn about Peggy's passing We met when the uams auxiliary hosted the aromatique saleWe had such fun together and that sale was the start of a long friendshipI will miss her
Jim, Tricia and family, I truly loved and admired Peggy. I was shocked and saddened to learn that she has passed. What a lovely picture of her. Prayers for comfort and thoughts of you at this time. Brenda G.
So sad to lose this wonderful woman. Thinking of your family