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Hamptons Life

Dec 8, 2017 3:08 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press & The Southampton Press

Peggy Griffin, Real Estate Agent And Pillar Of Bridgehampton Community, Dies At 79

Peggy Griffin
Dec 11, 2017 3:46 PM

She may have driven the bus that brought you to school, perhaps she gave you a haircut in her kitchen or served you a bowl of soup at the Bridgehampton Food Pantry, or she sold you the house of your dreams. Chances are, if you lived in Bridgehampton, you knew Peggy Griffin.

Ms. Griffin died on Monday morning, December 4, in her home. She was 79.

She was a pillar of the Bridgehampton community in a seemingly endless variety of ways, but the contributions she made to the town she was raised in and loved were united by the common thread of selflessness.

Ms. Griffin was born in Bridgehampton in 1938 as Margaret Hildreth—part of the Hildreth family that has been in the area since the 1600s. She graduated from Bridgehampton High School, attended Wilfred Beauty Academy in New York, and then married R. Graham Griffin at the Bridgehampton Presbyterian Church in 1959. They had met on the beach in Bridgehampton.

For the last 30 years, Ms. Griffin made a name for herself as one of the top producing real estate agents in the area, working up until recently at Corcoran’s Bridgehampton office, as a senior managing partner. She was one of the first principal brokers for Allan M. Schneider Real Estate, and after Mr. Schneider’s death in 1991, she and five other brokers purchased the company, continuing to work there and sell real estate even after they sold the company to Corcoran in 2006.

Real estate was not a career Ms. Griffin actively pursued initially, but it was a perfect fit. She had worked as a beautician at the Bob Abbott Salon on Jobs Lane in Bridgehampton for several years, and also cut hair in her home. She was working as a school bus driver for the McCoy Bus Company in the 1980s when she was approached by Mr. Schneider, who wanted her to come work for his agency.

“He knew Peggy was the expert on Bridgehampton,” said Ms. Griffin’s longtime friend, Anne Antilety. “She knew everybody and everything in Bridgehampton.”

Friends of Ms. Griffin say that is because she was an energetic, giving and selfless person, and her generosity was not limited to close friends or family. She was an active member of the Bridgehampton Presbyterian Church, serving as an elder and deacon, donated her time and energy to the Bridgehampton Food Pantry, and was the president of the Bridgehampton Village Improvement Society off and on for more than 30 years.

“She was just always involved in everything,” said the younger of her two daughters, Kathleen McCleland. “If somebody needed something, she was always there. She had some clients who were older, and they were selling their house and she would be dropping off soup and meals when they need it. She was somebody who would just get things done. She’d do it before you had a chance to think about asking her how to do it.”

The transition from beautician to bus driver to star real estate agent seems an unlikely career path, but Ms. McCleland said her mother possessed a confidence and bravery that allowed her to pull off those transformations with ease.

“It never occurred to her that she shouldn’t do it just because she’d never done it,” she said of her mother’s foray into the real estate business. “I think when the opportunity presented itself, it just made perfect sense. She treated everybody the same, and I think people respected that. She wasn’t out to make a buck; she really loved what she was doing, meeting people and making connections with people.”

Ms. Griffin loved children as well, which is why she enjoyed driving a school bus for McCoy for many years. Albie McCoy, now in his 50s, said he remembers riding on the bus Ms. Griffin drove for his family when he was in elementary school at the Bridgehampton School and, later, the Sagaponack School, saying that while his memories of that time are fuzzy, he remembers her being “a lot of fun.”

“She had a great personality,” he added.

The McCoy family was extremely close with the Griffins over the years. She was a “great” driver, according to Peggy McCoy, who owns the bus company, and called her a “larger than life presence.” They were friends for more than 50 years.

“I moved out here in the ’60s, and right away, she nabbed me for the village improvement society,” Ms. McCoy said. “She knew everything about everybody and she had a great big heart.”

Her love of her community was rivaled only by the love of her family, which includes her husband, R. Graham Griffin, to whom she was married for more than 50 years; eldest daughter Denise Maynard and husband Brian; as well as Ms. McCleland, husband Sam and their children, Avery, 10, and Elijah, 7. The entire family had just returned from a vacation to Hawaii on December 2. Ms. Griffin died two days later. Taking a family vacation was a tradition Ms. Griffin started more than six years ago, and they all traveled to Hawaii for the first time this year after going to Turks and Caicos in years past.

Whether on an exotic vacation or close to home, Ms. Griffin cherished nature and the outdoors. She spent many hours at the beach throughout her life, waking up early to walk her rescue dogs on the beach for years and years, and she was an avid boater with her husband, and loved clamming and scalloping. She loved gardening, which she pursued not only in her own home but in her capacity with the BVIS, making sure window boxes bloomed with flowers, and Christmas trees looked just right as they adorned Bridgehampton Main Street during the holidays. She also loved golf, and could be found playing at the Southampton Golf Club. She lived in her Halsey Lane home in Bridgehampton with her husband, next door to both of her children and their families, but also owned a small cottage that her father had built in the Pine Neck neighborhood of Noyac, right on the bay. Ms. Griffin was a great cook and baker, and loved entertaining people in her home, inviting them over for dinner. She shared her love of cooking and baking with her grandchildren, whom she adored.

Kitty McCoy, the daughter of Peggy McCoy, knew Ms. Griffin her entire life, and said she never seemed to lack the energy for the many pursuits she threw herself into.

“She had the most intense, blue sparkling eyes, full of life that was indicative of the spark she had in her,” she said.

Peggy McCoy said she overheard someone else perfectly describe her lifelong friend and the impact she had on everyone around her: “Somebody said that they will miss our keeper of the village. I thought that told it pretty well.”

Donations in honor of Ms. Griffin’s life can be made to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, The Ellen Hermanson Foundation, or the Bridgehampton Presbyterian Church capital improvement fund.

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Peggy was one of the most giving people I have ever met and treated strangers like family. I was lucky enough to be adopted during a rough patch and she helped me at every turn. Her energy, strength, and passion will be missed greatly and will be in my thoughts and prayers forever, until we meet again over a home cooked meal and a glass of wine - all love always
By Jac-man (22), Southampton on Dec 8, 17 4:59 PM
What a nice article about such a special woman! She will be missed.
By shch (4), Southampton on Dec 8, 17 6:43 PM
Nice piece but odd that there was barely a mention of Graham.
By bambi (76), bridgehampton on Dec 8, 17 7:43 PM
1 member liked this comment
A paragraph was unintentionally deleted. It has now been put back in.
By BOReilly (135), Eastport on Dec 11, 17 10:59 AM
One could get lost in the sea of blue...
By Mr. Z (11847), North Sea on Dec 8, 17 9:21 PM
Oh, dear Peggy, you will be sorely missed! You were such a good friend to me back in the day... you taught me so much...and I will always love your sense of humor. God bless you, girl!
By Jan (25), Hampton Bays on Dec 9, 17 1:40 PM