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Peg Coe

(Nov. 15, 2006)

Margaret “Peg” Shaw Coe, 88, died peacefully in her sleep at her home in Cody Wednesday, Nov. 15, 2006.

Peg was born to Effie Abrahamson and Ernest F. Shaw in Cody on Christmas Day, 1917.  She always said she was “born under a lucky star.”

Her mother was the first teacher at Wapiti school.  Her father, a newspaperman, worked for E.L. Newton and later became editor and publisher of The Cody Enterprise.  He was also an early Wyoming State Representative.

Effie and Ernest were early Buffalo Bill Museum board members.  As a child, Peg helped her mother with fundraising tea parties to support construction of the original museum. Peg enjoyed a Cody childhood with frequent trips to the family cabin near Yellowstone National Park.  Many people found Peg a special child, including Molly Brown of Titanic fame, who was so enamored with her after a brief stay at the family home that she wanted to adopt her.  Although her parents refused to send her to Denver, Peg and Molly corresponded for years.

Peg attended school in Cody and graduated from high school in 1935.  She attended Stephens College in Columbia, Mo., and the University of Wyoming, where in 1939 she earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology and philosophy.  She was a member of the Delta Delta Delta sorority.

After graduation, she worked at The Cody Enterprise and then for the Australian Procurement Office in Washington, D.C.  She went on to San Francisco, Calif.,, where she worked for the War Labor Board and also helped edit a newsletter for Cody servicemen stationed overseas in WWII.

While in San Francisco, she married Henry H.R. Coe in 1943.  Coe was the son of industrialist and philanthropist William Robertson Coe and Mai Rogers Coe.

Peg and Henry returned to Cody after his discharge from the Navy and bought Pahaska Tepee, Buffalo Bill Cody’s original hunting lodge which the family still operates as a successful tourist resort near Yellowstone’s East Entrance.

The couple had three children: Anne Rogers Coe, Henry H.R. “Hank” Coe, and Robert Douglas Coe.  Both Mr. and Mrs. Coe were strong supporters of the BBHC, and Mr. Coe served on its Board of Trustees.

In 1966, Henry died.  Peg assumed his seat on the Buffalo Bill Memorial Association (BBMA) Board, which began her four-decade tenure as a Trustee.

In 1968, Peg and her brother, John Richard “Dick” Shaw and his wife Phyl, purchased The Cody Enterprise newspaper and printing company which they operated for several years.

In 1974, Peg was elected Chairman of the Buffalo Bill Memorial Association (BBMA) Board of Trustees.  During her tenure as Chairman, the Buffalo Bill Historical Center (BBHC) achieved world-class status and doubled in size.  She presided over the BBHC’s participation in an international exhibition at the Heritage Museum in Leningrad in the Soviet Union.

There were several landmark expansions under her leadership.  They included bringing the Winchester Arms Collection from New Haven, Connecticut to Cody (1976); constructing the new Plains Indian Museum (1979); expanding the existing library facilities and the Harold McCracken Library (1980); and reconstructing Frederic Remington’s New Rochelle studio (1981).  In 1991, the Cody Firearms Museum was dedicated and in 1994, the McCracken Research Library was remodeled and rededicated.

Her service on the BBMA Board spanned 40 years.  In 1997, Peg resigned as Chairman after 23 years of extraordinary leadership. Her fellow Trustees honored her by naming her Chairman Emeritus and she continued her Board service until her death.  Peg took personal and professional interest in every aspect of the BBHC’s growth, and is credited with the creation of the Plains Indian Advisory Board to oversee the Plains Indian Museum.

Many civic organizations and businesses lost a good friend when Peg died.  She was President of the Coe Medical Foundation and Director of the Shoshone First National Bank as well as Park County Republican Chairman.

Peg belonged to PEO, and was also on the Advisory Board of the Cathedral Home in Laramie.  She served on Wyoming’s Centennial Committee from 1986-91, helping plan Wyoming’s 1990 statewide Centennial celebration.   She served as Trustee (and Emeritus Trustee) of both the Millicent Rogers Foundation of Taos, N.M., and the Central City Opera House in Denver, Colo.  She was also the only member from the Rocky Mountain area to serve on the Board of the Metropolitan Opera National Council.

Peg was honored numerous times for exceptional service.  In 1980, she received the Westerner Award of the Old West Trail Foundation.  Two years later, Peg was one of six women inducted into the National Cowgirl Hall of Fame and Western Heritage Center.  In 1983, she was the first Wyoming citizen to be honored by the National Secretaries of State when they presented her with the Gold Medallion Award for Meritorious Service.

The University of Wyoming honored her with a Distinguished Alumnus Award in 1984.  Peg was also a past recipient of a Governor’s Arts Award, and in 1994 she received the Arts and Sciences Exemplary Award from the University of Wyoming.

Peg was a Life Master of the American Contract Bridge League. Peg loved playing cards, and consistent with years of family tradition, was a proud participant of a local poker group.

Peg accomplished many things, but her love of family always came first. Her devotion extended to all her roles as wife, mother, sister, grandmother, great-grandmother, and aunt.  She genuinely enjoyed sharing her home with her many friends.  Among her special pleasures were travels with her family over the years. Peg’s heart and home were a centerpiece to family and friendship, and this she would consider her greatest legacy.

Peg was preceded in death by her husband, Henry H.R. Coe; her parents, Ernest and Effie Shaw; brothers, Charles “Chuck” Shaw and Dick Shaw; stepdaughter Natalie Gerdes; and nephew, Geoffrey Cameron Shaw.

Peg is survived by sister Ruth Shaw Kern, Red Lodge, Mont., and sister-in-law Phyllis S. Shaw, Whitefish, Mont.  Her children are Anne Coe Hayes (Jim), sons Henry H.R. “Hank” Coe and Robert D. Coe (Angela), all of Cody.  She is also survived by stepdaughter Dorothy Mae Boyd (Spencer).  Other survivors are grandchildren Jay Hayes (Brittany) of Fort Collins, Colo.; Meg Hayes of New York, N.Y.; H.R. Coe, Cody; Carey Coe Johnson (Jeff), Casper; Bethany Coe Boydston (Jason) of Cody; and Robert and Hubbard Coe of Cody, as well as several great-grandchildren.  Peg also had many step-grandchildren.

Surviving nieces and nephews are Ernie Shaw, Greg Shaw, Bob Shaw (Jeanean), Mike Shaw (Julie); Anne Shaw Moran; Katy Kern-Levine (Joe); Dick Kern; Alan Kern; Lee Kern, Dr. Michael Coe, Dr. William Coe (Anne), and many great-nieces and -nephews.

Services were held at Christ Episcopal Church, Cody, Monday, Nov. 20, with interment at Riverside Cemetery immediately following under the direction of Ballard Funeral Home.

Memorial donations may be made to the Buffalo Bill Historical Center, Planting Fields Foundation (P.O. Box 660, Oyster Bay, NY 11771), Spirit Mountain Hospice, Cody Medical Foundation or a charity of choice.

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