Peggy Spirakis passed away Wednesday, October 14, 2020.
She was born on January 29, 1933 in New York City to Chester and Violet (Hibbert) Hillsgrove. She grew up in Baldwin, New York in what, at that time, was a small fishing village on the south shore of Long Island and graduated from Baldwin High School in 1950.
She was an exceptionally talented dancer and was encouraged by many to pursue dancing as a career. However, being an excellent student, she chose a more academic path, graduating from William Smith College in 1954 and receiving a master’s degree in English Literature from Columbia University in 1955.
Returning to her hometown, she taught in Baldwin at both a Jr. and Sr. High School level for the next 37 years, rising quickly to become Chairman of the English Department.
In 1961 she married Dr. James Spirakis and they moved to a beachfront home on the ocean, commuting each day back to Baldwin and traveling the world on their summer vacations. They were happily married for 27 years, until his untimely death in 1988.
Moving to Lakeland in 1999 she quickly became involved in community activities, serving as a Docent at the Polk Museum of Art, as Docent Chairperson for two terms and as a member of the museum Board of Directors. She served on the Board of Habitat for Humanity of Lakeland and volunteered with the local symphony, the Democratic Party, and the Board of Directors of her condominium Association. She frequently said she had never seen a community that had as strong a “Spirit of Volunteerism” as Lakeland.
Having been a supporter of The Islanders hockey team during her years in New York, she switched her allegiance to the Tampa Bay Lightning and became a loyal fan and season ticket holder.
Predeceased by her parents and her husband, she is survived by her sister, Dr. Marylou Taylor of Lakeland; two nephews, Christopher Taylor (Cindy) of Tampa and Andrew Taylor (April) of Lakeland; a niece, Marybeth Brisson (David) of Sarasota; and a great-nephew, Drew Taylor of Lakeland.
A memorial service will be held at a later date.
Condolences may be sent to the family at Heath Funeral Chapel.