, Gloucester, MA

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May 10, 2007

Rockport artist has thousands of stories from her 100 years

Margaret "Peg" Woodfall Williams, who turned 100 on Tuesday, shared her centennial as the center of attention at a party populated by artists, writers, political activists, merchants and many others.

Stories of her charm and spirit flow easily from her friends and neighbors, who share a close-knit neighborhood on School Street in Rockport.

Williams, a watercolor painter with an unusual design background, beginning with her early career designing Aubusson rugs, was born in Philadelphia and grew up in the Flatbush section of New York City's Brooklyn neighborhood. She attended the Pratt Institute of Art in New York City.

Between the dozens of greetings, Williams talked about her family. She admired the work of her father, Orville P. Williams, considered a top political cartoonist of the 20th century. He depicted political events and issues of the times during the Depression, Prohibition, and the two world wars.

Following World War II, Peg Williams moved permanently to Rockport and began selling paintings for the noted artist Max Kuehne. She had always summered here on School Street, living in her grandmother's house.

"Woodfall is my grandfather's name. He was a contractor here who at one time owned all of School Street," she said.

Friends admire the centenarian for her sense of humor.

When asked to what she attributes her longevity, she commented that she never married. But she traveled the world and found great companionship with her beloved dachshunds, through which she met many friends, who also shared an affinity for dogs.

"They were the love of my life," she said, especially her last dog, Tess.

A close friend, Ingeborg Lauterstein, remembered that if tourists left their dogs locked in a parked car, they might be sorry.

"Peg would think nothing of throwing a bucket of water through the slightly open window to cool the poor darling down," she said.

Williams cherished the new life she found in this seaside village, known for its artists.

"I love the outdoors, and there's nowhere else on earth like Rockport. It has everything," Williams said. "I'm not a city person, really."

She was an avid rock climber and champion tennis player. As a girl she played field hockey and rode horses.

"I can't complain about my life," she said while seated on a plush couch in her neighbor Deborah Cowan's home, surrounded by friends, fresh flowers, birthday cards, food and gifts.

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