Samarkand parade honors Peggy Hayes on her birthday
Covenant Living at the Samarkand retirement community celebrated the 100th birthday of one of its residents with a car parade Tuesday morning.
Shortly after 10:30 a.m., former Santa Barbara County Courthouse volunteer docent Peggy Hayes took her seat at a balloon-decorated throne in front of the senior living center, greeted by her friends and a line of cars decorated with birthday messages.
After the car parade made two gos around the Santa Barbara community’s looping entrance, the residents sang “Happy Birthday” to Ms. Hayes, and she expressed her gratitude to them for holding such a celebration. She told her friends that she was “overwhelmed” by the gesture.
“This is remarkable. I never thought of such an event,” she said.
Ms. Hayes told the News-Press she thanks her “good genes” for her longevity. She suspects she got them from her dad.
“My father lived to over 105,” she said.
Looking back on her long life, Ms. Hayes said that moving from Maryland to Santa Barbara was a highlight.
According to her daughter, Margie Hayes, who shares the same full given name, Marjorie Matthews Hayes, she and her mother first visited Santa Barbara in 1954 when driving through California on the way to San Francisco, where her father was going to leave to serve in the military during the Korean War.
Though Ms. Hayes and her family have lived in many places from Morocco to France, she developed a particular liking for Santa Barbara, much to the disappointment of her family members on the East Coast.
“I just knew Santa Barbara was it for me,” she said.
Starting in the 1970s, Ms. Hayes started her long stint as a volunteer docent at the Santa Barbara County Courthouse, giving historical tours, working to preserve the building’s archives and eventually taking charge of the effort to get the documents digitized. The 100-year-old recalled her first time visiting the courthouse as love at first sight, so much so that it birthed a whole new passion.
“I adored that. The minute I saw that building I was overcome. And from then on architecture was my special interest,” she said.
Ms. Hayes was particularly taken with the courthouse’s architecture because it was so different from the architecture that she grew up around while living on the East Coast. Also, she’s particularly fond of Santa Barbara architecture’s extensive use of tiling.
“I’m a tile fancier,” she said.
Samarkand associate executive director Jennifer Leggit told the News-Press that on Tuesday, Ms. Hayes became the retirement home’s sixth centenarian resident and the second 100th birthday the community has celebrated since the onset of COVID-19 last spring.
Ms. Leggit praised Ms. Hayes as an active Samarkand resident with a very “purpose-filled life.” Throughout her 20 years living at Samarkand, Ms. Hayes has been an active volunteer on the campus, serving in positions such as the head of the community’s archives committee.
“She’s very active and engaged and has a lot of friends here, good social circle, meets every afternoon with a gang for happy hour, so she’s well established here,” Ms. Leggit said.
If Ms. Hayes has one piece of wisdom she’s learned throughout her century of life to impart to younger generations, it’s a statement, a military saying, she heard growing up as an Army brat.
“Straighten up, and fly right,” she said.