Marguerite Richards Peyser of Irvington spent much of her adult life gazing at the Hudson River, studying it, sketching it, and painting it in watercolors, pastels, and oils. She was captivated by the myriad and varied colors of the water and sky as the seasons changed and the clouds shifted their form. She interpreted the river on paper and canvas when it roiled and when it seemed to stop altogether, when it was covered in ice flows, and when it glistened in the summer sun. And she captured the drama of the Palisades in brilliant light and ominous shadow.
On the morning of May 11, Marguerite passed away peacefully at age 89, following a brief bout with Covid-19, within sight of the river she loved.
Marguerite was more than an artist. Born in Monroe, Louisiana, she moved to Baltimore as a teenager, and then to New York. Following a whirlwind romance to Peter Peyser, whom she famously met at a party under a table in search of a lost earring, she married, and in short order gave birth to daughter Penny. After moving to Irvington, they welcomed four more children: Carolyn (now Safi), Peter, Jim, and Tom.
Their lives together, first in a cottage in Cedar Ridge and then in a sprawling colonial on Sunnyside Lane, were filled with Fourth of July parties, Easter egg hunts, backyard football games, and ping pong in the basement. With a husband and father who spent several decades in local and national politics, their home became a makeshift campaign headquarters with regular political discussions around the dinner table.
As talented as she was as a visual artist, Marguerite could also sing. Her pitch-perfect soprano could be heard around the house and in the station wagon, complementing and softening her husband’s boisterous baritone, regaling their children with show tunes, standards, and patriotic songs. Although they sometimes rolled their eyes at the sound, the five children inherited their parents’ love of music. As a longtime member of St. Barnabas Episcopal Parish, Marguerite sang hymns and anthems joyfully and beautifully until her mid-80s, as a beloved member of a church choir she cherished.
An often private person, Marguerite had many friends. Just over a year ago, the Irvington Public Library sponsored a retrospective showing of her artwork. At the reception in her honor, dozens of old friends from Irvington and beyond were in attendance, in part to enjoy her handiwork, but even more, to spend some time with a woman they knew and loved. In many ways, the event was a celebration of Irvington itself; a reflection of how many lives Marguerite touched and how much she meant to all of them as individuals and as members of a wider community that was closer because of her.
Besides her five children, Marguerite leaves five grandchildren, with her first great-grandson on the way.
The family requests that well-wishers give to the Marguerite Peyser Fund for New York Presbyterian Westchester Behavioral Health Center at http://give.nyp.org/goto/Peyser.