A Leader in the Montauk Community

By Jean Ruggles

Mrs. Joyce was born in East Hampton, NY on March 13, 1921. As a Flannery she held claim to having the first birth certificate issued in the newly incorporated village of East Hampton, NY.  After graduating from East Hampton High School, Mrs. Joyce attended the State University at New Paltz Teacher College in New Paltz, NY.  She later completed her Master’s degree at South Hampton College.  Beginning in 1942, her teaching career spanned fifty years.  Integrating her love for the east end with her teaching style, Mrs. Joyce took many students on trips to gather beach plums for jelly making or to pick potatoes for the annual kindergarten Thanksgiving Feast at the Montauk Lighthouse.

Mrs. Joyce was equally involved in community affairs.  She was a charter member of the Montauk Historical Society and had been its President for 20 years, a position that she held up until the time of her death in 2002.  She also organized the twice annual craft fairs at the Second House Museum.   In prior years she was active in the St. Therese of Lisieux Catholic Church and she volunteered for organizations including: The Montauk Fire Department, the ladies’ auxiliary and Delta Kappa Gamma Beta Xi chapter.   She was honored with the Suffolk County Heritage Award and in 1994 and the Montauk Friends of Erin recognized her contributions by making her the Grand Marshall of its St. Patrick’s Day parade.  After retirement she could be seen working at her son’s flower shop, Pete’s Potting Shed.

In 1968 as president of the MHS, Mrs. Joyce took over the care and management of Second House, which at that time the town of East Hampton purchased in the same year.  One of her great pleasures was her interest in organizing the annual (2) craft fairs at Second House. She was always eager to find ways to get the kids and residents involved and come together in the town.  The revenue generated from these craft fairs was redistributed to repair and maintain the old Cattle Keeps barn and the rest of the property at Second House.

Mrs. Joyce was a prime mover in having the MHS take over the management of the Lighthouse when no other local or federal agencies shown any interest in continuing to do so.  The Coast Guard was going to board up the windows at the Lighthouse and automate the aids to navigation and leave the building vacant.  In 1984, Peggy asked Mr. Richard White to chair a committee of the MHS to petition the United States Coast Guard to allow the MHS to open a museum at the “light”.  Now in our 34th year of operation and with millions of visitors to the Lighthouse it is evident that Mrs. Joyce’s efforts and love for the east end have exceeded probably even her own expectations.

Peggy was a valuable member of this community. She enjoyed the children she taught and their families. She was dedicated to all the positions she held and performed the job to her best.  Mrs. Joyce was an inspiration to all. She gave herself to Montauk, a place which she loved.