Peggy Sain Howell, 68, of Brentwood, died Nov. 13, 2018 at Alive Hospice in Nashville.
Peggy had ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease) but ALS didn’t have Peggy. Fiercely independent to the end, she inspired all who watched her face adversity with strength and humor.
Though not a Brentwood native, Peggy reveled in her role as her adopted city’s No. 1 Citizen. The pride she took in her degree from Middle Tennessee State University paled in comparison to the pride she took in earning certificates from the City of Brentwood’s Citizens Fire and Citizens Police academies. The Brentwood Fire & Rescue Department had no bigger champion and she knew most of the firefighters by name, Engine Company and marital status. A member of Leadership Brentwood’s “best class” of 2003, she later served on the Leadership Brentwood Alumni and Youth Leadership Brentwood boards. She enjoyed being on the Citizens for Brentwood Green Space board, a role she tagged teamed with her basset hound, Truman Howell, who often turned up in the non-profit’s publicity campaigns.
As “Miss Peggy,” she was a beloved mentor, surrogate mom, youth small group leader, Friend in Faith and confidante to literally hundreds of Brentwood children and teenagers spanning two generations. She never hesitated to jump into – if not instigate – a prank or party. She wrote untold recommendation letters for high school seniors interested in rushing Alpha Delta Pi, her college sorority.
Since moving to Country Club Estates subdivision in 1991, she served as the HOA’s secretary/treasurer, a post she relinquished after her 2017 ALS diagnosis. Though she never held a local public office, she managed several successful Brentwood City Commission campaigns. She seldom missed an Election Day, working the polls for her favorite candidates. Though not a Brentwood Country Club member, she loved to watch its Third of July fireworks display each year from the Brenthaven Presbyterian Church parking lot and always invited dozens of friends to join her.
An active member at Christ United Methodist Church, Franklin, Peggy served on its advisory board and as a youth small group leader. Previously, she belonged to Brentwood United Methodist Church where she was active in the Seekers Sunday School class, United Methodist Women and student ministry.
Her last “public hurrah” came Oct. 27, when she led the Howell-In for Peggy team in the 2018 ALS Nashville Walk. After winning the Rookie of the Year Award in 2017, this year’s team was recognized as Top Team as the walk’s top fundraiser.
Born on Sept. 28, 1950 in Nashville, Peggy graduated from Hillsboro High School and for several years put her education degree to work as a kindergarten teacher in Metro’s Dodson Elementary School. She left teaching to become a flight attendant with Allegheny Airlines and later U.S. Air, a career perfectly suited to her outgoing personality. Over the years she collected a repertoire of stories that entertained friends and family the rest of her life. Most were true, including the one that involved O.J. Simpson and a bloody Mary. After retiring from the air, she put her customer service skills to work in retail and as an administrative assistant. She loved to work and stayed with her final employer, Edwin B. Raskin Co., until her ALS symptoms made continuing impossible.
The only time Peggy didn’t call Middle Tennessee home came after her marriage to Gulf Coast developer Jim Howell, now deceased. Before divorcing several years later, the couple lived in Santa Rosa Beach, Fla. where Peggy developed a deep love for the Florida panhandle, especially St. George Island, a dog lover’s paradise.
Peggy was preceded in death by her parents, Price and Gladys Sain of Nashville, and her beloved basset hounds Honey, Buford and Sophie. She is survived by brother Steve Sain and wife Elena of Jacksons Gap, Ala., nieces Leah Sain of Commerce, Ga. and Monica Sain of Atlanta, Ga., Truman Howell and too many “almost family” friends to list.
A Celebration of Life service is planned at 3 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 25, 2018 at Christ United Methodist Church, 508 Franklin Road, Franklin, with visitation from 1 to 3 p.m. No black allowed. Please wear bright colors to celebrate the joy Peggy brought to all.
Her caretaking team of special friends Diane Adcock, Jan Arnold, Kim Bass, Annette Bishop, Dottie Cummings, Betsy Crossley, Judy Foster, Annette Hutchinson, Sarah Johnson, Susan Leathers, Fran Lusby, Pam McCormick, Lauren McLean and Sally Smith will serve as honorary pallbearers. In lieu of flowers, Peggy requested donations in her memory go to the Brentwood Public Safety Trust Fund which aids the city’s fire and police personnel in need. Checks can be sent to the fund in care of Ms. Robin Forte, Brentwood Fire & Rescue, 5211 Maryland Way, Brentwood, TN 37027.
Austin Funeral & Cremation Services is in charge of arrangements.