Peg was that all-too-rare an individual who truly believed in the essential quality of every human being [Peg Studney, 84, teacher, human rights activist, public intellectual, Obituaries, Aug. 11]. As a devoted follower of Thomas Aquinas and the founding fathers, she lived every day believing in the concept of natural law. It is not an exaggeration to say that Oak Park would not be the same if Peg had not been as active as she was. When Oak Park was determining which way it was going to go on diversity, it was Peg who led the team that persuaded John Gearon to run for village president. Peg believed that Oak Park should be and was going to be a welcoming community for all people. Peg did not introduce me to Oak Park politics and the Village Manager Association, but it was because of what she helped to accomplish that I joined and actively participate in the organization to this day.
Peg certainly was not unique in that there were many people who were fighting just as hard for Oak Park, but where I believe Peg stood out was in the way she transferred her beliefs to everyone she met, especially to young people. At that time it was a common belief that kids should be seen but not heard. I think that the way the ’60s unfolded was because too many adults had no interest in listening to what people had to say. Peg never subscribed to this adage.
I know personally how she would listen to what I had to say and question me as to how I arrived at that conclusion. She would question me as to why I believed that would make me a better person. I have to admit that many a time I was too naïve to understand what she was talking about. She would talk about some Indian tribe where all the people were equal and no one was a chief, and I thought how ridiculous; that would never work, but in time I realized there was no such tribe to join. What she was fighting for was my soul, my inner being.
I feel blessed that she was the grandmother of our four children because I know her influence will stay with each one of them for their entire lives. We were very lucky to have her live so close so that they, too, could question and learn what is and is not important.
I also know that she touched many others in the same way. She would tell me that someone whom she did not remember had just approached her and wanted to thank her for what she had said when she was a teacher at Ascension 40-plus years ago. These former students wanted Peg to know how much her words of advice had meant to them. It is truly amazing just how many people’s lives were touched by this woman from south Oak Park. Peg was rare, indeed.
– Bob Kane is an Oak Park resident and son-in-law of Peg Studney, an 84-year-old Oak Parker who died Aug. 7.