Thursday, 6 August 2020

Peggy Fuerstenau, 1932-2020

It is with great sadness that I report that Doug Fuerstenau’s gracious wife, Peggy (Margaret Pellett) died on May 30th from coronary-pulmonary complications. I had the pleasure of meeting Peggy for the first time last year in Denver, where Prof. Fuerstenau (MEI Blog 20 July 2015) was presented with the IMPC's Distinguished Service Award at the SME Annual Meeting. Doug was also the first recipient, in 1995, of the IMPC's Lifetime Achievement Award.
Peggy was born in Franklin, New Jersey, on May 7, 1932. She met Doug while she was an undergraduate student at Radcliffe College (Harvard) and Doug was a doctoral student at MIT working under Professor A.M. Gaudin. After their marriage in 1953, Peggy completed her studies in American history and Doug began his career as an assistant professor of mineral engineering at MIT.  After graduating from Radcliffe, she continued her education at Simmons College in Boston, where she received an M.S. degree in library science.   Later she was the caring mother of their son and two daughters. Her main outside activities involved volunteer work, serving as a docent at the Oakland Museum and on various programs related to University student welfare and persons in need.
Peggy and Doug on their wedding day in 1953
During Doug’s long career at the University of California, Peggy was a welcoming hostess for dinners and receptions in their home to many dozens, if not hundreds, of professional colleagues and visitors to Berkeley from all parts of the world.  Doug’s many graduate students and postdoctoral researchers fondly remember her many buffet dinners for the group and their spouses. 
Other international persons in the mineral world came to know her at International Mineral Processing Congresses. She set a record that probably will never be surpassed in that she was an accompanying person at thirteen IMPCs, the first in 1970 in Prague and the last in 2014 in Santiago.  For the San Francisco IMPC, she was a member of the organizing committee and led planning for the program for accompanying persons. Prof. Fathi Habashi has kindly supplied this photo:

Peggy with Janusz and Barbara Laskowski at the Prague IMPC in 1970
Peggy and Doug with Osvaldo Bascur in Rio de Janeiro, 2001
In addition, Peggy accompanied Doug to many SME/AIME Annual Meetings, toured a few flotation plants with him, and also went on a few Homestake Mining Company trips.  In 1990 the two had a special underground tour of the Homestake Gold Mine in South Dakota, and the photo below shows Peggy and Doug at 2200 meters below ground on the  7200 Level where the rock temperature is 57 degrees Celsius. The deep mine refrigeration thankfully maintained a very satisfactory ambient temperature.
Although Peggy's education was in liberal arts, she had some familiarity with mining.  Her oldest uncle’s entire career, starting in 1907, was with the New Jersey Zinc Company in Franklin, advancing to mill superintendent at this complex gravity and magnetic separation operation.  He told Doug about Professor Richards coming there as a consultant from MIT. In his Handbook, Taggart describes the Pellett Classifier used in the Franklin mill where three different minerals, franklinite, willemite and zincite in calcite, were recovered from a rich ore containing 20% zinc. To mineralogists, the dumps at Franklin are world famous in that over 350 different minerals occur in the region, 90 of which are fluorescent, and two dozen of those occur nowhere else in the world.
Very significant to Peggy and Doug's family life was the Pinecrest cabin in the High Sierra that they purchased in 1965. Being located at an elevation of 1700 meters on the west slope of the Sierra leads to year-round relaxation and recreation and in the summer, Peggy fished and swam in the Pinecrest Lake, and in the winter there were various snow activities.  After their children became avid downhill skiers, Peggy and Doug switched to cross-country skiing.  Depending on schedules, several overseas visitors enjoyed Peggy’s hospitality at Pinecrest. Every fall, Doug had a weekend there with his graduate students but Peggy stayed completely away that weekend. The photo shows the beauty of the area after a fresh snow.
Although she was not a musician, Peggy had a great love for opera.  She and Doug had season tickets for the San Francisco Opera for fifty years and estimate that they attended nearly 300 opera performances, including some at other opera houses during their travels.  They also found time to attend a few symphony concerts and plays each year in the San Francisco Bay Area.  
In recent years, Peggy arranged for several different Road Scholar excursions in Europe and the U.S.  Their last trip to Europe was a non-technical Road Scholar excursion in November 2016 to Venice followed by a few days in Munich.  The photo shows Peggy enjoying the Grand Canal in Venice.
Doug tells me that during her last days, Peggy said several times that she was completely satisfied with the life that she had.


  1. My deep sympathies to Prof.Fuerstenau ; may God give him strength to with stand such loss.
    May Her Sole Rest in Peace.

  2. Ann and I send our sincere condolences to Doug and his family. His dear wife Peggy certainly led a most remarkable life.
    John Ralston

  3. On behalf of the Central Metallurgical Research and Development Institute in Cairo, Egypt, we would like to extend our deep condolences to Prof. Fuerstenau for the passing of his wife. May she rest in peace, and may God grant him comfort.
    Prof. Dr. Tawfik Refaat Boulos

  4. I have had the pleasure of meeting Peggy off and on for over 30 years. Of course, it was almost always associated with Doug's travels to Montana Tech Alumni functions and SME Annual Meetings but periodically special meetings that I happened to travel to as well. Among my favorites are right here in Butte when I first met their son Steve and in Peru where Doug and I were plenary speakers. Of course, Miriam and Peggy hit it off! God Bless you Doug and condolences to you and all your family. She was a special lady. Rest in peace Peggy.

  5. Yvonne and I send our sincere condolences to Doug and his family on the passing of Peggy. We had the pleasure of meeting her several times at IMPC Congresses and agree that Peggy had a remarkable life. Rest in peace.
    Ralph and Yvonne Holmes, Australia

  6. Very sad news. My deepest condolences to Prof. D.W. Fuerstenau..
    Osvaldo Bascur, Seeq Corporation, USA

  7. I am sorry to hear this sad news that Dr. Doug Fuerstenau’s wife Peggy passed away on May 30th. We pray that her soul rests in peace. We extend our deepest sympathies to Dr. Doug Fuersteanau.

  8. In late July 1960, just on 60 years ago, my then wife, Bev, and I were entertained at a BBQ dinner at Peg and Doug’s home in Berkeley. We had just gotten off the boat from Australia en route to my Graduate School, Columbia University in New York.

    Peg and Doug did a chicken BBQ meal. Now, to an Australian in 1960, we had roast chicken a couple of times a year and we had never had BBQ chicken!! Just on 60 years ago; I still remember the time with fondness. When Peg heard that Bev was pregnant with our first child, she also pregnant, worried about how Bev would cope after a Trailways Bus trip across the US. She contacted her brother and sister-in-law in New York, Pete and Doris Statts Pellett who did indeed become our close friends when we got to New York. We stayed close to them since that 1960 first visit.

    After three years in New York, we drove west in our 1960 6 cylinder Chev Impala to Berkeley for a two year position with Doug. We had two wonderful years there. Often Peg and Doug would include us in restaurant evenings in San Francisco to entertain visitors or to their home for dinner with visitors.

    Peg accompanied Doug on several visits to Australia over the years including my retirement symposium and dinner in 1999.

    Tom Healy, Australia

  9. Doug used to give a series of lectures to young researchers in many countries. I had the honor to attend many of these lectures when Doug and Peggy came to Korea when I taught for a number of years there after my retirement from SDSMT.
    Peggy was a kind and caring hostess when students and visitors were visiting their home. She was also a very gracious and appreciative guest when she was treated by others. She didn’t hesitate to take somewhat unusual local foods in a courteous and most interested manner which made the hosts happy and satisfactory.
    Kenneth N. Han, Distinguished Professor Emeritus, SD School of Mines & Tech, USA

  10. Dear Professor FUERSTENAU

    For several days now I intend to write to you. However, I did not know what to say in this circumstance. As you know, differences in cultures make it difficult to choose the proper words to express your feelings to the other culture in a certain occasion. As I may have told you before, not only myself or my family but all those who knew PEGGY, although she was not much older than all of us, she was directly or indirectly caring for all of us, and for all of us she was "the Spiritual Mother" or "Goddess Mother". I am sure you will excuse my Pidgin English, as you used to tell me. There are no words or expressions that can express our deep sadness for PEGGY’s loss.

    The MEI Blog is an interesting and comprehensive bio bibliography for the joyful life of a very lucky and loving couple such as "PEGGY and DOUG". Thanks to Professor Wills for the favour.

    By the way, in the Wedding photograph in the Blog, I noticed an interesting similarity in the face features of PEGGY and your daughter Serra, am I right?

    Doug, I hope your health is fine. Please take care of yourself.

    Best wishes and best regards.

    Prof. Abdel Zaher M. Abouzeid, Egypt

  11. Oh no Very sorry to hear this. Peggy has always been so good to all of us. May her soul rest in peace.
    Sincere condolences to Doug and rest of the family.
    VJ Karra
    Doug's student 1972-76
    Retired in Orlando, FL


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