Margaret White Dodge, a resident of Princeton for over 20 years, died on Wednesday, February 1 at 84 years of age. Known as Peggy, she was born on June 4, 1932 in Buffalo, New York, to Irene Margaret Lee and Emmet Daniel Hurley. Peggy was raised in Erie, Pennsylvania, and attended The Villa Maria Academy in Erie and Convent of the Sacred Heart, Noroton, Connecticut. She returned to Erie following the death of her father and graduated as valedictorian from Mercyhurst Academy. She then attended Manhattanville College and moved to New York City following graduation.
In 1959 she married Dr. Richard L White, a graduate of Princeton University and the Columbia College of Physicians and Surgeons. Peggy and Dick moved to Tenafly where they raised three children: Richard L. White Jr., John E. White, and Lee White Galvis. Dick died of melanoma in 1966 at the age of 37.
The Department of Surgery at Columbia hired Peggy and she began her pioneering life as a working, single mother of three. Over the years, her career path led her to become head of public relations at Fairleigh-Dickinson University.
Aside from work, Peggy spent countless hours at hockey rinks, carpooling and generally encouraging her children to do well in school.
In 1979, she met and married Dr. John H. Keating who had retired from practice as a doctor at St. Luke’s hospital in New York City. They moved to Rumson and enjoyed many trips to far-flung places including China, Australia and New Zealand. Peggy was actively engaged in her community and made many friends wherever she lived. She joined the Rumson Garden Club, played paddle tennis and tennis and was particularly happy at the beach and near the ocean. Summers at the Seabright Beach Club were rejuvenating and sustained her through many difficult winters and times of loneliness. Alas, Jack, too, became ill and died in 1991.
Always taking charge of her destiny, Peggy moved to what she hoped would be a vibrant and welcoming community: Princeton. She joined the Aquinas Institute, Biedensbrook Club, Prettybrook Club and the Nassau Club. A lover of art, she audited classes at the University and eventually became a docent at the Princeton University Art Museum. Later in life, Peggy loved to play bridge and seized on any opportunity to use her mind and continue to learn.
Through her association with Columbia Presbyterian, she was introduced to David and Doris Dodge who became good friends. Following the death of Doris, Peggy had the good fortune to marry a remarkable man, David Dodge. Peggy and David spent seven happy years together. She particularly enjoyed getting to know his children – Nina, Bayard, Melissa, and Simon – David’s extended family, and the many organizations to which he had devoted his time and considerable talents.
While being widowed three times seemed a burdensome fate, Peggy’s faith propelled her to seek a higher purpose. She was dedicated for over 50 years to her service for the New York-Presbyterian/Columbia Auxiliary, which supports the hospital through philanthropy and volunteerism.
She helped establish The Richard L. White Memorial which supports cancer research in the Department of Surgery at Columbia University Medical Center. She received the United Hospital Fund’s Hospital Auxilian and Volunteer Achievement Award in 1998.
She will be remembered for her generosity of spirit, sense of humor, resilience, a love of doctors (and the medical profession), and being a great mother – not only to her children but many of their friends.
In addition to her children, she is survived by her brother, John Hurley; and her 10 grandchildren who brought her joy and made her feel perpetually young.
Memorial donations can be made to the Richard L. White Memorial Fund for Cancer Research, Trustees of Columbia University, Office of Development, 516 West 168th Street, 3rd Floor, NY, NY 10032 or by calling (212) 304-7612. A funeral mass will be held in the Princeton University Chapel on Friday, February 10 at 10 a.m.
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