Margaret Kathleen Nedzi was born in LaCrosse, Wisconsin on March 4, 1925, the sixth of eight children of Francis and Elizabeth Garvey. She died suddenly, but peacefully on All Saints Day, Sunday, November 1, 2020 at age 95 while recovering from an acute rheumatologic vasculitis earlier in the fall.
Peggy, as she was affectionately known to so many loving family and friends, grew up in Seneca, Wisconsin, attended a one-room secondary school there and graduated from St. Theresa’s College in Winona, Minnesota in 1947 with a bachelor’s degree in dietetics. She served her dietetic internship at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, Michigan, during which time she met her future husband, Lucien N. Nedzi, on a blind date. They married on January 28, 1952 in Laredo, Texas, officiated by Peggy’s eldest brother, Father Francis Garvey, then a Maryknoll missionary in Mexico City.
Peggy served as a dietician at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Ann Arbor and Deaconess Hospital in Detroit. She obtained her teaching credentials, briefly taught high school in Seneca, Wisconsin, while caring for her ailing mother, and then first grade at her husband’s alma mater, Dickinson Elementary School, in Hamtramck, Michigan, until the birth of their first of five children in 1958. She and her husband, then an attorney in Hamtramck, were politically active in the young Democrats of Detroit in the 1950’s. Peggy supported him as congressional district chairman for President John F. Kennedy in the historic election of 1960.
Peggy canvassed hundreds of homes in the 1st congressional district of Detroit, Michigan going door-to-door for the candidacy of her husband in the special election of 1961 to fill the U.S. Congressional seat left vacant upon the elevation of the Honorable Thaddeus Machrowicz to the federal judiciary. From a crowded field of candidates, her husband, the Honorable Lucien N. Nedzi, was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives on October 17, 1961.
Over the next twenty years, Peggy was mother to five children and the woman behind the man, who together served the constituents of the 1st and14th districts of Michigan in Washington until her husband’s decision not to seek re-election in 1980. The annual visit of the local district Chamber of Commerce for whom Peggy personally cooked and, together with her husband, hosted at their home in McLean, Virginia became a tradition.
Peggy joined her husband, a member of the Armed Services Committee, in fulfilling his Congressional responsibilities around the world. Peggy is the proud matron of the US Navy supply ship the USS Detroit which she christened in Bremerton, Washington in 1968 and the nuclear ballistic missile submarine the USS Michigan which she christened in Groton, Connecticut in 1980. Peggy was an honored guest at the launching of the USS Michigan upon its re-fitting as a nuclear guided missile submarine in 2007 at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard.
As her five children went off to college, Peggy re-entered the United States work-force, first as a consultant for Creative Parties, having honed her consummate skills as a hostess, and later as a bank administrative assistant until her retirement in 1990.
Peggy was active in many local civic and community organizations including the Friends of John-Paul II Foundation, the McLean Women’s Club, and the Congressional Club, all of which will miss her bountiful energy, selfless compassion and enduring smile. The Congressional Club Cookbook included many of Peggy’s personal recipes. For almost sixty years Peggy graciously and memorably hosted friends and relatives at the annual First Lady’s Luncheon sponsored by the Congressional Club each spring.
An avid gardener, Peggy and her husband planted and cultivated magnificent azaleas and rhododendrons, nurtured collected native forest wildflowers, and rotated seasonal plantings in the wooded yard surrounding their home of fifty-seven years in McLean, Virginia. So many native birds flocked to their backyard feeders stocked with seeds and suet that they earned a local conservation designation, a bounty not lost on neighborhood deer and squirrels alike. A supporter of the conservation efforts of the World Wildlife Fund, Peggy accompanied her eldest son and eldest grandchild on a two-week eco-tour to visit the lemurs of Madagascar at the age of 88.
Peggy is pre-deceased by her parents, Francis and Elizabeth Garvey; brothers, Father Francis Garvey, Thomas, Bernard, and Lawrence; sisters Mary Tafelski and Sister Stephana Garvey.
She is survived by her husband, the Honorable Lucien N. Nedzi of McLean, Virginia; children Lucien A. Nedzi, MD of Dallas, Texas; Bridget K. Nedzi, LCSW of Acton, Massachusetts; Brendan T. Nedzi of Montclair, New Jersey; Gretchen T. Nedzi of Reston, Virginia; and Eric F. Nedzi of Belmont, California; nine grandchildren; older brother, Kay Garvey; seventeen nieces and nephews and countless loving friends and neighbors.
In view of the COVID-19 pandemic, a private funeral mass for immediate family will be held at 10:30am Wednesday, November 11, 2020 at St. Luke’s Catholic Church in McLean, Virginia. Interment in the Columbarium at Arlington National Cemetery is planned at a future time to await the arrival of her husband, per their expressed wishes.
Before her death, Peggy asked that any expressions of sympathy be made in her name to the Dominican Sisters of Sinsenawa in Sinsenawa, Wisconsin, her younger sister’s order: https://www.sinsinawa.org/forms/p/donation/