Last summer, a noted naturalist and birder, Peggy Spiegel Opengari, passed away. In her honor, the New River Chapter of the Virginia Master Naturalists has installed a bench at Pearisburg Library. The chapter also donated money to The Nature Conservancy as Peggy requested in her will.
Peggy was a well-known birder and founding organizer of the Mountain Lake Birding Festival. She was very active with the local bird club, conducting many of the field trips with her husband. She was also involved at the state level (Virginia Society of Ornithology).
Peggy Spiegel Opengari Memorial Bench
Peggy took her grandchildren often to the Pearisburg Library so it was fitting that a bench would be placed there. Debbie, fellow Virginia Master Naturalist, and I are conducting Peggy Spiegel Opengari Nature Journal Workshops for children every summer as well--also supported by the master naturalist chapter.
Close up of Plaque on Bench
I met Peggy for the first time 5 years ago when I wanted to go beyond identifying birds at the feeder. I went on the New River Bird Club's website and saw they were having a field trip at Pandapas Pond. I just showed up there and Peggy made me feel like a friend right away. I remember learning to identify the yellow-bellied sapsucker. When I arrived home later that day, I spotted the bird right away in our woods. I know I will never be the birder that Peggy was (I don't even have a life list!) but I was inspired by Peggy's enthusiasm for birdwatching.
When I installed the plaque the other day, a woman with her two children asked me what I was doing. I told her about Peggy. The woman thought it was a nice bench in a good place (right outside the entrance). She said she must have been a special lady and I said she was.
Through the bench and the nature journal workshops, I hope Peggy's legacy will live on.