Obituary : Ifetayo "Peggy" W. Yancey
Ms. Ifetayo "Peggy" Wright Yancey, 74, a retired special education teacher from Oak Bluffs and Clearwater, Fla., died on November 16 at her home in Oak Bluffs after a long battle with colon cancer.
Born in Peabody, Ms. Yancey was the daughter of the late Dorothy Steward Fields of Salem, and Frederick J. Wright of Medford. Ms. Yancey was raised by her grandmother, Mary White Steward, on a small farm in Peabody.
As a child, Ms. Yancey attended the Samuel Brown School and graduated from Peabody High School in 1951. In high school, she played saxophone in the marching band and played on the basketball team. Her yearbook inscription read: "I may not always be Wright, but I'll never be wrong."
After several years as a homemaker and secretary, Ms. Yancey enrolled in college and earned an undergraduate degree in early childhood education from Jackson College at Tufts University in 1976, and a master's degree in special education from the University of Georgia in Athens in 1979. She went on to teach at Hawthorne Day Care Center in Boston, Peace Corps Elementary School in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, and Skyview Elementary and Seminole Middle schools in St. Petersburg, Fla., retiring in 1997.
An early advocate of equal education in the 1960s, Ms. Yancey was at the forefront of an effort to open exclusive schools to minority children. She enrolled her own daughters in the elite Eliot-Pearson Children's School at Tufts University and William Cushing Wait Elementary School both in Medford,; Belmont Day School in Belmont, and Dana Hall School in Wellesley.
Ms. Yancey was an early active member of the West Medford Community Center, which provided after-school enrichment activities for the area's youth, including Troop 128 of the Girl Scouts of America and a nursery school. She was also a longtime member of the historic Shiloh Baptist Church in West Medford.
Known for her bright smile and sense of humor, Mrs. Yancey was always willing to lend a hand to help others. She was a member of the American Association of University Women, the Oak Bluffs Senior Center and the Martha's Vineyard Polar Bears; a volunteer with Special Olympics, and a supporter of Martha's Vineyard Hospital. She was also a devout Christian and a past treasurer of the All Nations Seventh Day Adventist Church in St. Petersburg, Fla.
Ms. Yancey was the widow of Leonard A. Yancey, who died November 17, 2004. She is survived by two daughters, Sharifa-Lauren J. Belle-Williams of Oak Bluffs and Karima A. Haynes of Waldorf, Md.; four grandchildren, Ifetayo Y. Belle of Boston, Erica L. Belle-Williams of Oak Bluffs, Christian D. Haynes and Allana C. Haynes, both of Waldorf, Md.; a brother, Robert W. Steward of Los Angeles; and numerous relatives and friends.
A memorial service will be held December 19 at All Nations Seventh Day Adventist Church, located at 2611 First Ave. N. in St. Petersburg, FL, 33713. A second memorial service is planned for August 2009 in Oak Bluffs.
In honor of Ms. Yancey, the family requests that everyone undergo screening for colon cancer, which is preventable, treatable, and beatable through early detection.