Beloved NAN Director Emerita, Peg Laflam passed away on June 19, 2006, leaving behind her husband, Bob, five children, many grandchildren, and numerous needleworkers who admired her design and stitching ability, and who revered her as a teacher. NAN especially valued her contributions as director and counselor. Below is a eulogy for Peg, written by Director of Teacher Certification, Caela Tyler, and some other comments by NAN personnel.
Peg Laflam, one of the brilliant sparkling stars in the galaxy of needle art, passed away on June 19, 2006. Even though Peg won her battle with cancer several years ago, her recent valiant fight with brain cancer was short. Peg Laflam – adventurer, mentor, encourager, individualist – a woman of many talents, eclectic in both her abilities and her interests.
“Adventurer” describes Peg so well! She and her husband, Bob, traveled the world, accumulating a vast network of friends. In addition to her geographic and cultural explorations, Peg was a true adventurer as an artist. Her innate curiosity led her to constantly ask herself, “What if?”. She followed through to find the answer, embarking on explorations that resulted in wonderful fresh approaches and exhilarating designs. At our birth, we mortals emerge from the womb. However, I believe that, at Peg’s birth, she literally came out of the box.
NAN was indeed blessed with Peg’s involvement as she earned her Teachers’ Certification and Honors credentials. As a counselor, Director of Teachers’ Certification, and Director of Education, her mentoring gave candidates the courage to push the envelope, to take those steps beyond their comfort level. Indeed, Peg was so deserving of receiving NAN’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 2004. I was truly privileged to have Peg as my mentor. I first “met” Peg when I received a note from a total stranger several years ago. The note congratulated me on the design quality and excitement of a piece I had entered in an exhibit. Peg’s enthusiasm amazed me; not only in terms of her praise, but also in terms of her personal commitment – tracking down my address and taking the time to write. So began our relationship that blossomed into a friendship and a continuing source of advice and inspiration.
As a teacher, Peg was a constant encourager. I had the good fortune to be a student in one if her classes. Peg had a unique talent for pushing the creative buttons of all in the class; the more adventurous as well as those more hesitant. As a fellow professional, I savored observing her methods of encouragement and her ability to focus on every individual student. Peg encouraged all with whom she came in contact – family, friends, teaching candidates, students. And we all grew from the experience.
Perhaps Peg’s greatest strength was her individualism. Peg didn’t march along with everyone else. Her designs certainly attest to that aspect of her character; unusual (and magnificent) works such as her award-winning collage, Pas De Deux. Peg’s individualism radically changed her teaching career and supported her own creativity when she ceased offering set projects (at a time when set projects were THE thing) to focus solely on creative process classes. Although Peg taught at Callaway Gardens School of Needlework, a venue much sought after by national teachers, she did not teach there frequently. After all, Callaway occurs during ski season, and as an individualist (and avid skier), Peg definitely determined her priorities!
Peg’s versatility and breadth of talents was legendary. Her skills with construction-type tools nearly equaled her skills with an artist’s brush or a needle. Just last summer she was scrambling around on ladders painting the exterior of her much loved lakeside cottage. Beyond her artistry, she was an excellent seamstress, a great cook; she was literary and seemingly unfatiguing. What more can one say about Peg Laflam? Without a doubt, a major piece of Peg was her humor. My, how she made us laugh. Her dry humor, her quick wit, her one-liners delivered at the most perfect moment are unforgettable. She appreciated humor in others so much and had the most wonderful whole-body-experience laugh. Her Christmas card letters were mail to be savored. Every single year Peg penned one of the family’s experiences in a screamingly funny way.
Peg was the daughter of an Army officer, and the husband of one, too. She and husband Bob produced five outstanding children, and she was grandmother to 14 beautiful young ones. Her great energy allowed her to host many, and sometimes all, of them at their country home in New Hampshire where she often engaged them in creative activities—when they weren’t out skiing.
Peg Laflam is no longer physically by our sides or at the other end of an e-mail. Her contributions and legacy to the word of needle art are stellar. Her personal gifts to all who knew her are to be treasured. I certainly treasure our friendship, and because she was Peg, I do so with a smile.
Caela Conn Tyler
Although I had known Peg for several years as a friend, I really became her fan and admirer professionally, when we taught a four-day workshop on Color and Design for N.A.N. several years ago. She was knowledgeable, prepared, and was a pleasure to work with each day. Her sense of humor and creativity were always a delight to enjoy. It seemed to rub off on all of us. As a friend and colleague, I’ll always remember her and her quips. But most of all, I’ll remember Peg as a true professional.
Peg was so much a part of my life for so long a time that I can hardly believe that she will no longer be there. She had such a zest for life, such a wonderful sense of humor – with the ability to deliver lines with impeccable timing – and a smile that made you want to smile back, regardless of your mood. She always inspired those around her to reach beyond their comfort zones, try something new, tweak colors, be adventurous as they worked creatively in their chosen medium. She influenced so many students and candidates, encouraged them to do better and led by example as she created projects for the Exemplary each year. My life is richer because she was a part of it and I am so glad she was. I will miss her.
Of all the friends that I have made through needlework, Peg was a “stand out” not just for her teaching style and leadership skills, but for her sincerity and candor, her integrity, her diversity of interests and that wonderful wry sense of humor that always lit up a room with laughter. Peg never aspired to be the perfect technical stitcher, but she constantly explored new ways of being creative, and her strength in design and color seemed to reach a new zenith in those wonderful quilted wall hangings that she produced in recent years. She also fostered this same enthusiasm for experimentation within her children and students. I will miss my good friend and I know that her ongoing contributions to her NAN “family” will also be sorely missed.
Ann Strite Kurz
Peg Laflam was a free spirit with a twinkle in her eye, a joke on her lips and designs swirling in her head. It was my great joy to have known her all during her needlework career. We found ourselves “roommates” during many seminars and especially at the annual “Assembly for Embroiderers” sponsored by the Valentine Museum (which later became the National Academy of Needlearts.) We laughingly said we were “roomies” and that is how we both signed our letters, cards and other correspondences to each other over many years. In an article I wrote about Peg in the July/August 1999 issue of needlepoint now I described her this way: “Always one to try the new…to do the unexpected…to find the humor in a situation, Peg believed that there is no time like the present for doing something.” She employed that philosophy and worked tirelessly to help needlework attain the status of “art” rather than “craft.” She also shared so much of herself with the many classes she taught on color and design. I believe that the needlework world is colored a little brighter and smiles a little more because Peg Laflam passed this way.