Margaret French, 94

Margaret (Peggy) Weston French died in Wilton Sept. 18, 2012. She was 94.

Mrs. French, the daughter of Frederic and Estelle DeWitt Weston, was born July 5, 1918, in a home that stood on Old Ridgefield Road in Wilton Center where the Chase Bank is now. A painting by E. Boyd Smith, author and illustrator, commemorated her baptism later that year at the old St. Matthew's Church.

Descended from one of Wilton's early families, her father was a stockbroker and commuted to Manhattan daily for almost 70 years. Her mother, Estelle, was the first woman elected to public office after being sponsored by the Civic League for the School Board in 1914.

As a child, her mother her mother drove her to school at Hillside, a private school in Norwalk, along Danbury Road. When the road was first paved with concrete in 1924, the southbound lane was tinted pink and the northbound was white.

After graduating from Hillside in 1935, she attended Connecticut College for Women, and graduated from the Columbia University School of Business in 1939. She worked as a security analyst for Central Hanover Bank & Trust in New York City where she met Daniel Chester French II, of Darien, whom she married in 1946. They moved to Connecticut in 1947 and rented a cottage in Wilton on the Norwalk River while building a home on family property on Cheese Spring Road. They belonged to the Norwalk Yacht Club and enjoyed sailing on Long Island Sound. Mrs. French also enjoyed her dollhouses and miniatures that were a lifelong hobby.

"Peggy loved the land and everything that grew or lived on it," her family said. "She spent many years of her life working to preserve what they owned and to protect what local land could be saved from future development."

In 1965, she was appointed to the Planning and Zoning Commission and served six years, including a term as chairman.

A self-taught botanist, Mrs. French acquired a knowledge of Connecticut wildflowers and ferns that was well respected. She volunteered at Devil's Den in Weston both in the office and managing trails. One trail, Peg's Path, was named in recognition of her work there.

Mrs. French was also a long-time member of the Wilton Garden Club, which has managed the Old Town Hall since the early 1930s. When serious cracks were discovered in the building in 1977, she led the club's fund-raising effort to fix the building and three years later it was reopened.

In recognition of her extensive community service, Mrs. French was among the first group elected in 1981 to the town's Hall of Volunteers.

She was one of 32 Wiltonians who participated in the historical retrospective Recollections & Remembrances: Stories of Wilton's Yesterdays, a Wilton Bicentennial video released in 2002.

Predeceased by her husband in 1986, she is survived by her children, William Weston French and Mary Channing, both of Wilton, and Janie Coley French of Durham, N.C. Her granddaughter, Dana Corson, lives in Newport, R.I.

The Bouton Funeral Home was in charge of arrangements. Burial at Hillside Cemetery will be private. Memorial gifts may be made to the Wilton Land Conservation Trust, P.O. Box 77, Wilton, CT 06897 or The Nature Conservancy, 4245 North Fairfax Drive, Suite 100, Arlington, VA 22203-1606.