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In Memoriam: Peggy Lee Hahn, former Virginia Tech first lady, university benefactor


BLACKSBURG, Va., Dec. 11, 2009 – Peggy Lee Hahn of Blacksburg, wife of university President Emeritus T. Marshall Hahn Jr., died Thursday at age 85.

Her family will receive friends Sunday from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. at McCoy Funeral Home, 150 Country Club Drive, SW, Blacksburg. The funeral is 2 p.m. Monday at Blacksburg United Methodist Church, 111 Church Street, SE, Blacksburg.

Peggy Lee Hahn was the university’s first lady from 1962 to 1974 — a period that saw some of the most significant changes in school history. Enrollment nearly tripled and what was known as Virginia Polytechnic Institute became a comprehensive research university.

According to her husband, Peggy Lee Hahn’s talent for entertaining and maintaining relationships with university stakeholders helped make it possible to transform the institution.

The Warren H. Strother and Peter Wallenstein book "From VPI to State University," a history of T. Marshall Hahn Jr.’s tenure as president, quotes the former president saying his “hard-driving approach to achieve rapidly as much progress as possible for the university sometimes left some ruffled feathers, and these were quickly smoothed by her charm.”

Peggy Lee Hahn was also a generous benefactor to the university, especially its Hahn Horticulture Garden, which was renamed in her honor in 2004. A garden pavilion and meadow garden are named for her as well.

When the garden pavilion was dedicated in honor of Peggy Lee Hahn in 2006, current university President Charles W. Steger said: “Much of what the university is today is a tribute to Dr. Hahn’s vision and his devotion to Virginia Tech. At every step, Peggy was there with him, supporting his efforts and cementing relationships with hundreds of people, both on campus and across the commonwealth.”

Born Margaret Louise “Peggy” Lee on Dec. 17, 1923, on a dairy farm in DeWitt, Va., she grew up one of seven children and attended public schools before going on to graduate with a degree in home economics education from what is now James Madison University. She taught home economics at Bladensburg High School in Hyattsville, Md., before marrying T. Marshall Hahn Jr. in 1948.

The funeral will be officiated by Rev. Reggie Tuck and Rev. Herbert Hobbs. Burial will follow in Westview Cemetery, Blacksburg.

The family requests that in lieu of flowers, memorial contributions be made to the Hahn Horticulture Garden at Virginia Tech. Donations may be mailed to: Virginia Tech Foundation, Virginia Tech, University Development (0336), Attn: Gift Accounting, Blacksburg, VA 24061.

Hahn's obituary can be read on the McCoy Funeral Home website.

Those in the university community who may wish assistance or desire counseling support may contact:

Referrals to a campus minister may be done through the Dean of Students Office at (540) 231-3787.