Wagner College mourns the passing of lifetime trustee and stalwart supporter Dr. Margaret “Peggy” Bambach Buck Reynolds ’40 H’98 on Monday, March 23 at her home in Key Largo, Florida. She was 101 years old.
“She will never be forgotten by those who were privileged to meet her,” said Wagner College President Joel W. Martin. “On her final visit to campus, just last fall, it was clear she loved and never forgot her alma mater. May she rest in peace.”
Born July 1, 1918 in Brooklyn, Peggy’s family moved to Staten Island. She graduated cum laude from Wagner College in 1940 with a bachelor’s degree in English.
Fresh out of college, Peggy became Wagner’s director of publicity in 1940. Three years later she married Orlando J. Buck, the son of Congressman Ellsworth Buck from Staten Island. Orlando was one of the 19 soldiers flying home on leave who died on Sept. 18, 1944 when their C-47 transport plane crashed into solid ice on an unnamed, uncharted peak 16 miles northeast of Mt. McKinley, Alaska.
Following Orlando’s death, Peggy Buck signed up as a volunteer with the Red Cross for war relief work. Immediately after V-E Day, she was assigned to staff a Red Cross R&R club for American service members in Nice, on the French Riviera. Like many Wagnerians stationed overseas during the war, Peggy wrote to Wagner College President Clarence Stoughton, lovingly known to his students as “Prof.”
“Red Cross work is still far too new for me to give a really good description,” Peggy told Prof on July 23, 1945, “but in general we run a recreational program for the fifteen thousand men who spend seven-day leaves in Nice. It’s tremendously interesting and satisfying — a good combination for work.”
In 1948 in Paris, Peggy married Bill Reynolds, who later became president of Litton Industries International. They began their marriage in Washington, D.C., and Los Angeles, Cal., before moving to Zurich, Switzerland, where she learned to ice skate, speak German and volunteered in the American Women’s Club Library. That three-year stint was followed by fifteen years in London, England where she volunteered her artistic talents at the Tate Gallery, continued painting under the tutelage of John Peaty, and became an enthusiast of reproducing brass rubbings from an array of English churches and cathedrals. She and Bill returned to the U.S. in 1980, dividing their time between their stud farm in Middleburg, Va,, and a pied-à-terre in Manhattan, N.Y.
Peggy was a talented oil portraitist, an avid reader and accomplished needle-pointer. She joined her husband, Bill, in breeding thoroughbred racehorses, something they began in the English Cotswolds and continued in the States. Peggy was a dedicated philanthropist, contributing to the construction of the Ocean Reef Club’s Medical Center and Cultural Center in Key Largo, Fla., her retirement home.
A lifelong supporter of her alma mater, Peggy and husband Bill were elected to Wagner College’s Board of Trustees in 1996. In that year, a major gift from the Reynolds helped fuel the drive toward the expansion of Wagner College’s sports and recreation facility, which was later named the Spiro Sports Center. In 1998, Peggy and Bill were awarded honorary doctorates.
Peggy was responsible for the beautification of the campus that resulted in Wagner being named the Princeton Review’s Most Beautiful Campus in 2005. One of her gifts helped pave the footpaths around campus. In 2004 another gift made possible the renovation of North Hall, renamed Reynolds House after her late husband in 2006. Peggy also funded an endowment for the care of Reynolds House. In 2008, she became a lifetime trustee.
In addition to her first husband, Orlando Buck, Peggy was predeceased by her parents, Edward and Isabelle (Rivers) Bambach, of Staten Island, and her second husband, William Reynolds, who died in 1998.
She is survived by her daughter, Constance (Kurt) Bierkan of Evergreen, Colo.; granddaughters Lisa Welker of Duxbury, Mass., and Laura (Nikolas) Smith of Los Angeles, Cal.; great-grandsons Lincoln (11) and Morgan Radzevich (7); and great-granddaughters Amalia (7) and Ava Smith (5); as well as Peter Hannak, her devoted caregiver and companion of eleven years.
A private memorial service and burial will be held in Wisconsin at a date yet to be determined.