Peggy O’Neal was born in1931, and raised in Cleveland, Ohio. Her mother, Abbie, died when she was three years old. During her youth, the family struggled financially. Four of her brothers fought in World War II, and one brother was tragically killed in the war in France. Coping with these challenges at an early age, she became very involved in her church as a youth leader, choir member, and usher, and served as a delegate to several Baptist conventions.
With support from her church, Mt Hermon Baptist, and encouragement from her Junior High science teacher, Mary Moore, she received an undergraduate degree in Teaching from Kent State University. Upon leaving Kent she began her teaching career for the Cleveland Public Schools in 1953. She went on to obtain graduate degrees from John Carroll University and Cleveland State University. She married Lee Stephens, and together they had their two children, Wayne and Darryl.
Along the way Peggy continued her spiritual journey, becoming an active member at Faith Lutheran and Advent Lutheran churches. In 1971 she joined Mt. Zion Congregational Church, where she worshipped for 30 years and served in many capacities including Deacon Board, Board of Christian Education, Board of Christian Education, and president of Women’s Fellowship. She loved music and cherished the opportunity to sing with the Chancel Choir, and always looked forward to the yearly performance of Handel’s Messiah.
Peggy retired from teaching in1994, and she had even more time available for her passion for service. She volunteered at Wade Park Veterans' Hospital, at two area nursing homes and presented programs to honor the many elders in the congregation. With the help of Interact Cleveland, she instituted a program to feed homeless families at the church once a month and collected baby formula and clothing for families in shelters.
After joining Plymouth Church in Shaker Hts. in 2003, she continued her faith journey through full participation in many church activities for several years.
Over the years Peggy drew together the various segments of her O’Neal, Perkins, Stephens, Solomon, and Stevens roots, forming a family club that has held numerous reunions since the early 80’s and thrives even today. She is survived by her sons, Wayne (Beverly) and Darryl (Janice), three grandsons, Gavin (Lydia), Bradley, and Adam, and four great-grand-children: Kyli, Jae, Israel, Ava Grace, as well as five generations of cousins, nieces, nephews, and other loved ones.
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