Feb. 25, 1922 – Oct. 8, 2012
Peggy Pierce Elfvin was a true patron of the arts.
Whether it was Albright-Knox Art Gallery, where she served as board vice president, or the Buffalo Philharmonic, which named her Philharmonic Woman of the Year in 1977, she was a constant guiding presence at Buffalo’s oldest and most important cultural institutions.
Mrs. Elfvin, widow of U.S. District Judge John T. Elfvin, died Monday at her home. She was 90.
“She was a wonderful woman,” said Rosalie A. Zavarella, one of her closest friends. “Very unique in her own way, and I learned so much from her through the years. I will truly miss my friend.”
Born in East Orange, N.J., Mrs. Elfvin received her bachelor’s degree in English from Cornell University in 1943 and spent her years after college working in advertising at IBM.
She left IBM for a short time during World War II to serve as a lieutenant in the U.S. Navy Reserve.
She met her future husband at Cornell, married him in 1949, and they moved to Buffalo, where she resumed her advertising career, first with Albright-Knox and later at Graphic Controls Corp.
“She was a special member of our court family,” said Chief U.S. District Judge William M. Skretny. “Judge Elfvin and Peggy had a very special place in their hearts for the court and loved it profoundly. She will be genuinely missed by us all.”
After leaving Graphic Controls, Mrs. Elfvin embarked on a career of volunteerism that continued to the day she died.
She returned to Albright-Knox in 1965, this time as an active member and donor, and 10 years later joined the board of directors, where she remained for the next 47 years. She also was past chairwoman of the Members Council.
“She was so involved,” said Robert J. Kresse, a longtime friend and trustee at the Margaret L. Wendt Foundation. “She was an unquestioned supporter of the environment, and she was one of a kind, an old Yankee who didn’t suffer fools lightly.”
At the same time she volunteered at Albright-Knox, she provided guidance and leadership to the Buffalo Philharmonic, where she served on the Executive Committee, often as its treasurer. She also was active with the Women’s Committee and headed a wide range of committees associated with fundraising and national meetings.
Mrs. Elfvin’s work extended to other civic and charitable organizations, including the United Way, WNED-TV and the SPCA, where she served as a board member since 1972.
She also was past president of the Garret Club.
“It’s a loss to Buffalo,” said U.S. District Judge Richard J. Arcara. “She was a close friend, a great woman and a great Buffalonian. My wife and I will miss her.”
With her husband often at her side, she became known as one of the city’s true arts patrons, a woman who’s list of favorite causes read like a Who’s Who of Buffalo culture.
She was a member of the Buffalo Zoo, Grosvenor Society, Buffalo Science Museum, Buffalo & Erie County Historical Society, Women for Studio Arena, the Burchfield Arts Center and many, many more. There will be no services.