Peggy Forster, 76, died Tuesday, Sept. 5, in her newly adopted home of Pullman, Wash., where she had moved for care from family. Born in Hanover, N.H., in 1941, Peggy spent every childhood summer, beginning “in utero,” in Salisbury Cove, Maine, where her father, Roy Forster, conducted research at Mount Desert Island Biological Laboratory, and her mother, Dorothy Forster, orchestrated legendary social events from their tiny cottage and captured local scenes in watercolor. Peggy played with fellow “lab brats,” many of whom became lifelong friends, and retired to Salisbury Cove in 2000 after 26 years as a librarian at Howe Library in Hanover.
She graduated from Hanover High School in 1958 and Vassar College in 1962, returning to Hanover to raise her family. Her career at Howe Library began with volunteer work in the early 1970s and culminated with her acting as interim director in the 1990s. She and fellow “Howies” formed a tribe that extended far beyond the collegial. After retiring to Maine, she poured her talents into volunteer nonprofit work, especially with Acadia Senior College, which she affectionately called “Geezer U.” She relished annual visits from her granddaughters, whom she indoctrinated into the ways of the intertidal zone she loved so well. Each year the girls searched for additions to “Boompy’s” epic mermaid collection. As a mother, Peggy mopped up tears, put out fires, reveled in the hilarity of adolescent friendships, sat in audiences of endless theatrical productions, may have written most of a research paper on Daniel Webster, rescued a wedding dress, helped deliver grandchildren and shared her love until the very end.
Comments made since her death reflect her legacy: “I would never have taught without her encouragement,” “She’s the first person I ever came out to because she felt safe,” and “I never would have thought of publishing a book without her.” Those who loved her will remember her wicked wit, tolerance, inquisitiveness, persistent radiance and passionate sense of place. She is survived by her daughter, Kate Ffolliott; son-in-law Jeff Sanders; granddaughters Sarah and Ellie; stepdaughters Kristin Hyde (Denise Paquette) and D’Arcy Hyde (Kristin Berkvist); former spouses Charles Ffolliott (Lynn Ffolliott) and Rusty Hyde; boyfriend Dennis Ellis; the entire Ellis family and countless friends.
There will be no formal services, in accordance with her wishes, but her ashes will be returned to Salisbury Cove in time, where loved ones will be invited to gather. Memorial contributions may be made to the Forster Fellowship at MDI Biological Laboratory (mdibl.org) or to the Forster Fund at Howe Library (checks made out to Howe Library Corporation, Forster Fund in memo).