Peggy Joann Bryce Harper
Peggy Joann Bryce Harper was born on February 1, 1937, on the banks of Mud Creek near Ringling, Oklahoma, to Homer and Essie Bryce and passed away on Saturday, April 13, 2019. A funeral service will be held on Tuesday, April 16th at 2:00 p.m. at the First United Methodist Church in Comanche, with Rev. Ryan Sims and Rev. Kevin McKinley officiating. Interment will follow at Fairlawn Cemetery, under the direction of Comanche Funeral Home.
Peggy’s family moved to a farm a mile north of Hastings where Mom grew up with her brother and sisters. It was a working farm and everyone had a job. She went to school at Hastings and had wonderful memories of those years.
In the early part of 1952, Peggy met a handsome steel guitar player named Jimmy Harper at a box dinner when Jimmy bought her box; they were smitten with each other and on December 23, 1952, they were married and began their life together. They first lived in Temple, Oklahoma, and wanted to have thirteen children – 12 boys and 1 girl and were going to have a farm and raise Hereford cattle – it was going to be Harper Hereford Haven. Well, the Good Lord had other ideas and in December of 1953, Suzanne was born, followed by Ginger in 1955 and Shari in 1957. The idea of 12 boys went out the window. In May of 1958, Shawn Dwain was born, in May of 1960 Jamie was born, in February of 1962, Shane was born, in May of 1963, Laurie was born and finally, Dezire was born in May of 1965. Eight children born in 11 ½ years!
Peggy and Jim moved to Duncan where Suzanne, Ginger, Shari, Shawn and Jamie were born. They later moved back to Hastings and Shane was born. In 1962, they moved to Meridian and Laurie and Dezire were born. Times were hard and never ending with 8 children but Peggy never complained. Jim was driving trucks and was gone a lot so the day to day taking care of those 8 Harper children fell to Peggy. Meridian was such a wonderful place to raise a family and those years are filled with sweet memories. In 1969 the “new house” was started and in 1970, the Harper family moved from what they call the “old house” to the “new house” and that became the Harper home for all of the kids, hundreds of friends and family over the years. The doors were always open and there was always lots and lots of good food and laughter and kids running in and out. Saturday was hamburger night and it became a family tradition. Peggy was a great cook and over the years, she spent countless hours fixing meals for her family as well as the community. Holidays were a big thing and the big house was full of family and extended family.
Jim’s brother, Clyde and Lou Harper, had a big family and their children, Mike, Pat, Steve, Karla, Elaine and Randy were some of those Harper kids too – for the most part all growing up in Meridian. After Lou passed away, they often said Peggy was their second Mom and she loved them all too and they were always welcome. All of the cousins were welcome and the door was always open and everyone scooted around to make another place.
Peggy was an excellent streamstress and always made the children’s clothes. She could buy a yard of fabric and make something beautiful. She would always make sure they matched at family reunions and Thanksgiving reunions and you could just tell by looking that they were one of those Harper kids.
While raising the kids, Peggy decided to start sewing for the public. She made a very small sign and put it in the front yard but it didn’t take long for word to get around. Her first sewing job was Anita Allmon’s wedding dress – made out of white satin and it was beautiful. But can you imagine trying to sew with white satin with 8 kids around? Over the next years, she sewed for lots of people and made beautiful and perfect clothes and made life-long friends. After the kids were all in school, Peggy went to work outside of the home. She worked at Haggar Slacks, K-Mart and Anthony’s before going to work at Meridian School as a cook – which was an absolute perfect job for her. In May, 1977, Shawn died in an accident at the refinery in Meridian and the family’s lives were changed forever.
In 1970, Brent was born and Peggy and Jim became Mema and Boppa. Colette followed in 1972 and Melanie in 1973 and from there, 16 more grandchildren were born. The first great-grandchild was born in 2000 and now there are 30. Peggy stopped working outside of the home and started keeping the grandkids. She always had pancakes and a hug and a smile ready every morning and once again, worked hours and hours taking care of every single one of them. There were “Grandkid Day” and boy, did those grandkids show up! Jim was still working at Halliburton and driving a truck but Mema always made the day. She loved having them but she had to be dog tired every night and yet, the next morning, the front door was open and the day began. If one of grandkids and greatgrandkids was sick, Mema was always there to help.
Jim and Peggy loved to travel and visited most of the United States. Laurie and Steve were stationed in Germany and they visited them three times over the years. Peggy also went back to Germany with Paula to see Killian, Jamie and Paula’s grandson and Peggy’s great-grandson. They went on wonderful vacations with Jim’s brother and wife, Lee and Donna Harper through the years. Mema and Boppa then started a tradition of taking the grandkids on a vacation and over the years, went across the United States.
In 1993, Jim retired from Halliburton and they started running hot shots for Lone Star Transportation and hauled freight from sea to shining sea. They drove lots and lots of miles before retiring. They added two puppies to the mix, Little Bit and LadyBug and they went along on the trips too.
Jim passed away on August 14, 2009, and that big ole’ house seemed quiet and well, big. Peggy decided to sell the house and move to a slower and simpler life at Comanche, across the street from Shari and Larry. But as usual, her door was always open to all of the kids, grandkids and greatgrandkids with the candy bowl always handy. Holidays were still big with everyone coming if they could and Peggy’s smaller kitchen was full of wonderful food and she would be busy busy getting everything ready for her big family and extended family. Everyone was always welcome.
She joined the Methodist church in Comanche and became good friends with all of those mighty Methodists! She loved playing games on Wednesday and was proud when she won. She joined Silver Sneakers at the Simmons Center and again, loved all of the friends she made there. One of her dreams was to go on some of the trips with those friends which she did and she enjoyed each and every one of them. She was signed up to go to the Mystery Tour that is coming up next week.
Peggy was so proud of each and every one of her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. As the kids grew up, the family continued to grow. It could be overwhelming to someone new to meet them all --- they were definitely a clan.
Peggy leaves to survive her seven of her eight children and their spouses, who always became Peggy and Jim’s children: Bridgett Suzanne Owens and Ricky, Ginger Diane Huff and Billy, Shari Jolene Sullivan and Larry, Jamie Harper and Paula; Christopher Shane Harper and Krista, Laurie Michele Smith and Steven and Lucia Dezire Duncan and Shannon. There are twenty-five grandchildren and their spouses who all adored her: Brent Owens, Colette Koch, Melanie Huff, Shaunda Collinsworth, Russell Huff, Josh Sullivan, Jenny Lynn Fahrni, Amy Wilson, Stephanie Frye, Aaron Todd Smith, Logan Owens, Shea Duncan, Erin Spencer, Jimmy Harper, Stormey Duncan, Breanna Nunez, Adam Harper, Morgan Harper and Adrianne Capers. And 30 great-grandchildren, who also loved her.
She lost her husband, Jim Harper in 2009, Shawn Dwain in 1977, her daughter in law, Patty just this past January, her parents, Homer and Essie Bryce, her brother, Jim, and both sisters, Betty and Pat. And her other family, Carl and Gladys Harper, Clyde and Lou Harper, and Lee and Donna Harper as well as her nephew, Patrick Lynn Harper.
She was the last of the Carl and Gladys Harper family to pass away. And on her side of the family, Bill McKay is now the last.