Peggy Rowley remembered for her philanthropy in Bay City

 Peggy Rowley is being remembered as one of Bay City's most beloved philanthropists.
Peggy Rowley is being remembered as one of Bay City's most beloved philanthropists. (WJRT)
Published: Jan. 3, 2020 at 5:12 PM EST
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Fireworks in Bay City is just one of the many projects the Rowley family has spent money and time on, and leading the way was Peggy Rowley.

She died on New Year's Eve at the age of 88 but her legacy of philanthropy will live on.

"It was never about Peg, it was about some idea and who in the community could do something about that," says Paul Rowley, Peggy's husband.

He knew Peggy Rowley best. He was married to her for more than 68 years. He says her love of music developed into a passion for getting things done.

"She thought they ought to be worried about music education, so that became the Bay Music Foundation, then she worried about the art because it wasn't going fast in her mind and she founded that," says Rowley.

She founded a lot of foundations and started a lot of projects. There's the Bay City Riverwalk, to the Friendship Shell where concerts are held, to the iconic Friendship Ring, to the Jennison Place apartments. The list goes on.

"She was relentless for recruiting, finding people who had a passion for that project and getting those folks together and saying, how are we going to do this," he says.

"She wasn't a Bill Gates, she wasn't an independently wealthy woman that threw money at problems, she threw her heart and spirit at it," says Diane Fong, president and CEO of the Bay Area Community Foundation.

It's a foundation Peggy Rowley started.

"If you ever try and quantify her impact, I would say you can't, because its living on day after day, far into the future," says Fong.

"She said what I would like people to make up their minds to do is to get out, see what needs to be done, and volunteer, helping getting it done," says Paul Rowley.

A sentiment she sums up in a video that's played when the Peggy Rowley Enrichment Award is presented each year.

"All things really are possible when people plan and work together."

A memorial service is planned for Sunday at Bay City's State Theatre.

It will begin at 4 o'clock.

In lieu of flowers, the family is asking for memorial contributions to the Bay Area Community Foundation.