Published in The Monadnock Ledger-Transcript on Aug. 16, 2018
Margaret Birch (Swett) Messer (1919 - 2018)
MANCHESTER, NH - Margaret Birch (Swett) Messer, 98, of Newbury, NH, passed away peacefully on July 28, 2018 after a brief illness, surrounded by her immediate family at the Catholic Medical Center in Manchester, NH. Known to all as Peg, she spent the past two years as an assisted living resident of Scott- Farrar at Peterborough, NH.
A public celebration of her life will be held at 10:30 am on Saturday, October 13th at the Center Meeting House, 945 Route 103, Newbury, NH with a private interment to occur later that day at the Booth-Sherman Cemetery in South Newbury. The Reverend Bryce T. Cleveland of Henniker, NH will officiate, having been long associated with the Center Meeting House where the Messer family has worshiped and served on the board of trustees for generations.
Peg was pre-deceased by her husband of sixty years, Harold M. Messer, Jr., who died on January 13, 2005 in Winter Haven, FL.
She is survived by her three sons: Randy, and his wife Susan, of Merrimack, NH; Barry, and his wife Betty, of Milford, NH; and Tracy, of Peterborough, NH; her four grandchildren: Christopher Messer, and his wife Janytra, and daughters Anja and Kylie, of Waltham, MA; Sarah Messer, of Madison, WI; L CPL Max Messer, of Bremerton, WA; and Meredith Messer, of Raleigh, NC; as well as her sister, Mary Louise Edwards, of McLean, VA; her two nephews: Jeffrey Edwards, of Reston, VA and James Edwards, of Manassas, VA; and many Birch and Swett family cousins.
The daughter of Walter Whittier and Nelle (Birch) Swett, Peg was born October 10, 1919 in Columbia, MO.
At the age of three, the family moved to Takoma Park, MD where they lived at 7212 Maple Avenue until 1976.
As a little girl, she participated in the annual White House Easter Egg Roll hosted by President and Mrs. Coolidge. She began her education in the District of Columbia public school system. After graduating from Theodore Roosevelt High School in 1937, she attended Wilson Teachers College (now part of the University of the District of Columbia) and went on to study violin at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music, graduating in 1942. It was there she met her future husband, Hal. For two years, she taught music at the East End Junior High School in Richmond, VA. On May 13, 1944, Peg and Hal were married at the Takoma Park Presbyterian Church.
During World War II, Peg and Hal traveled across the country with US Army Air Force's all-star production of Moss Hart's musical Winged Victory that raised over a million dollars for the Army Emergency Relief Fund. After the war, the couple lived in New York City where Peg worked as a pre-school teacher while her husband completed his master's degree at the Teachers College, Columbia University. They briefly lived in Barbourville, KY before returning to the Washington, DC area where they raised their family in Wheaton and Silver Spring, MD. For more than twenty-five years Peg was a private teacher of violin and piano students in addition to serving as choir director at the Rockville, Georgia Avenue (Aspen Hill), and Heritage Christian Churches where the family were long-time members.
Following his retirement as Director of Personnel at Montgomery Community College in 1981, Peg and Hal divided their time between the Messer family homestead on Baker Hill in Newbury, NH and their home at Swiss Village in Winter Haven, FL. She lo ved music and continued to serve as choir director, violinist, and arranger for musical productions in their local community. In 1994, the couple celebrated their golden wedding anniversary at a surprise party held at Colby-Sawyer College in New London, NH, joined by family and friends from near and far.
Peg experienced a number of personal challenges throughout her lifetime and persevered with her faith, dignity, and sense of humor intact.
Hal died not long after Hurricane Jeanne destroyed their Florida home in 2004. Two years later, Peg chose to relocate to New Hampshire to spend time near her sons and their families. Despite a progressive loss of vision, hearing and mobility in her final years, Peg will always be remembered for her kindness and consideration for those she loved, near and far. Her family, friends, and devoted caregivers will miss her dearly and rejoice that she now belongs to the choir of angels.
Expressions of sympathy may be mailed to the Center Meeting House, PO Box 50, Newbury, NH 03255, or be made online at centermeetinghouse.org
Funeral Home Chadwick Funeral Service 235 Main Street P.O. Box 68 New London, NH 03257 (603) 526-6442 .