On May 20, 2019, Margaret (Peggy) Heesch Layer, beloved wife, mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, prayer warrior, teacher, and friend; passed from this world
Peggy was born Peggy Ann Heesch on December 4, 1931 in Brooklyn, NY, to Herman (Ham) Franklin Heesch and Dorothy (Dot) Margaret Heesch (née Gorman) in Merrick, NY on Long Island. There Peggy spent her youth, save one year in El Paso.
In Peggy’s (née Peggy Ann) earliest days, her dad operated a car wash in New York City. The Great Depression closed the business. Eventually, the Heesch family had to move in with relatives before they got on their feet again.
World War II broke out and Peggy Ann’s family followed her father, now Colonel Herman Heesch, to El Paso, Texas, where he was sent to train his troops for combat. When Colonel Heesch and his troops were sent to fight in the South Pacific, Peggy Ann and her mother returned to family and friends in Merrick. They settled in a house on Lincoln Boulevard. Peggy Ann grew up there with her mother, her beloved Irish Setter, Pat, and, thankfully, her father when the war ended.
Peggy Ann attended Mepham High School, where she reigned as a ping pong champion. Her high school peers captured the truth of her character when they printed the phrase, “A real lady,” next to her senior yearbook picture.
The sweet, little girl, “Peggy Ann” grew to be sweet, young lady, “Peggy,” when she matriculated into Elmira College in Elmira, New York. In 1953, She graduated Magna Cum Laude as a member of the Phi Beta Kappa Honor Society with a Bachelor of Art degree in both history and education. Peggy cherished her time at Elmira. She kept in touch with her friends her entire life, remained very close to her roommate, and attended reunions right up until her 65th held last year. Peggy’s education did not end at Elmira. Her love of children led her to the State University of New York in Farmingdale where she earned a Master of Arts in elementary education.
In 1950, Peggy met a handsome young man who would accompany her through life for 67 years, with 62 of them as husband and wife. Peggy and Howard Paul Layer from Queens, New York, met at Glen Wild Lake in New Jersey. The teenagers’ families were visiting a mutual friend, and there began their lifetime of enjoying each other’s company and interests, attending museums, concerts, movies, and walking together whether it be on the city streets or a mountain trail.
On August 26, 1956, Peggy Ann Heesch became Peggy Heesch Layer when she and Howard married at the Cure of Ars Church, Merrick, NY. Their honeymoon was a road trip to their new home, student housing, at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Howard studied until he earned a Doctor of Philosophy in Physics. Peggy began her career as “Mrs. Layer,” the gifted teacher, with a first grade class in Chapel Hill. Her position was short-lived, however; David Howard Layer was born in 1958 and Mrs. Layer taught right up to the day before. With David, Peggy began her career as, “Mommy,” the gifted mother with a baby boy at home. The young Layer Family added Jeffrey (Jeff) Franklin Layer, 1959, and Paul William Layer in 1962.
Dr. and Mrs. Howard Layer moved their family to Hyattsville, MD, to be near Howard’s new job at the National Bureau of Standards (NBS). In 1965, Peggy, Howard, David, Jeff, and Paul followed NBS to Gaithersburg and moved into a brand-new development in Derwood, the cherished Mill Creek Towne. In 1966, the arrival of Susan (Susy) Margaret Layer completed the family.
For more than 50 years, Peggy’s sunny disposition and deep, deep faith blessed every Derwood community she joined. Peggy was a teacher and eventually the Director of Mill Creek Nursery School for 28 years. Her passion, knowledge, and commitment to include music in the classroom brought such joy and success to her students that people would stop her to thank her for being their teacher. Peggy practiced her deep faith at St. Martin of Tours Catholic Church in Gaithersburg, then at St. Francis of Assisi in Derwood. She sang in choirs, taught CCD, and ironed linens. And Peggy was a good friend. She was kind to all, friend to everyone in the room, and a loyal, steadfast, loving friend to the lucky ones.
Peggy is survived by Howard, her husband of 62 years; her children David (Nora), Jeff (Kathleen), Paul (Kathryn), and Susy (Michael); and her grandchildren Brian, Brent, Mark, Kevin, Sarah Layer, and John Huntzinger; Sean and Jason Layer; Chris (Aimee) and Joseph Layer and Jennifer (Robert) Lefevbre; and Joseph, Krista Hart, and Joshua and Mary Kendra Gleason and by seven great-grandchildren.
Visitation and viewing at St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church, 6701 Muncaster Mill Road, Derwood, MD 20855 on Friday, May 24, 2019 from 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. with Mass of Christian Burial at 11:30 a.m. Interment will immediately follow at All Souls Cemetery, 11401 Brink Road, Germantown, MD 20876.
Following interment, a food and drink reception will be held at The Highlands at Germantown, 20260 Goldenrod Lane, Germantown, MD 20876 (less than 3 miles away; attached to the Holiday Inn Express & Suites; separate entrance). In lieu of flowers, please consider a charitable donation to Montgomery Hospice (https://www.montgomeryhospice.org).