Margaret Brunhouse, 89, had a green thumb

Margaret Audrey Brunhouse, native Californian and Connecticut resident for the past nearly six years, died at her independent apartment at Meadow Ridge in Redding, CT, July 11. She was 89 years old.

She was born April 23, 1925 in Hollywood, Calif., to Harold T. and Audrey M. Simmons, a couple who had relocated from San Francisco to Los Angeles when Harold was promoted to Regional Sales Manager at Graybar Electric, an electrical contracting company.

Her young life was idyllic. Her family moved shortly after she was born to a small bungalow in Beverly Hills, an up-and-coming community blessed with the perfect Southern California climate. She fondly remembered days at the Santa Monica Beach, trips to Santa Catalina Island, overnight stays at Hearst Castle, and riding around the LA Memorial Coliseum track for the opening ceremony of the 1932 Olympics.

Margaret was the delight of her father. He loved her beautiful smile, and so he gave her the nickname, “Smiling Peg” after the 1913 song “Peg o’ My Heart.” The nickname stuck, and all of her immediate family and many of her closest friends always called her “Peg.”

Sadly, Margaret’s father died when she was seven years old. The little family, which by that time included her younger brother Warren, immediately relocated to San Francisco for the support of their extended family.

Despite earlier unhappiness, Margaret thrived in the love of her San Francisco relatives and she developed a fierce sense of family loyalty. She delighted in reminiscing about family summertime escapes from the fog to the Russian River, trips to Santa Cruz, and walking across the Golden Gate Bridge when it opened.

Margaret graduated from Polytechnic High School in December of 1942. She immediately went to work for the Great American Insurance Company.

Margaret married her husband, the late C. Edward Brunhouse, DDS, in 1945. After Edward graduated, they made their home in San Jose where her husband established first a dental practice and later an orthodontia practice. They had two children, the late Robert F. Brunhouse, PhD, and Janet.

Margaret managed her husband’s office accounting throughout his career. After her children completed their education, she also worked for 15 years as a Macy’s Customer Service Representative.

Margaret actively supported volunteer efforts throughout her life. She especially enjoyed her service to the Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital at Stanford University through the Willow Glen Thrift Box.

She had many lifelong passions and hobbies. She was a skilled and sought-after Bridge player. She created beautiful needlepoint chair covers, knitted wool sweaters and socks for her husband, and crocheted lovely baby gifts. Blessed with a green thumb, she could grow anything and particularly liked her roses, including her Cecile Brunner climbing rose which she grew in her San Jose garden from a slip of her grandmother’s own rose. Margaret frequently entertained and tried to recreate the happy holidays of her childhood for her family and friends. She loved to travel and did so thanks to her brother’s generosity.

Margaret relocated to Meadow Ridge of Redding, CT, in September 2008 to be near her daughter and her daughter’s family. She made many new and dear friends while enjoying all that the community offered and volunteering in any way she could. She played Bridge several times a week, made baby blankets in the knitting group, worked on the new residents welcoming committee, participated on the social activities committee, volunteered in the store, and enjoyed all the trips she possibly could.

In addition to her husband of 59 years and her son, Margaret was preceded in death by her beloved brother Warren L. Simmons, Sr.; her cousin and adopted “brother” Harold Levitt; her cousin Marilyn Simmons Harmon and Marilyn’s daughter Darcie; her cousin Leonard Lewis; and many dear friends.

Her daughter and her son-in-law Thomas C. Himmelright of Ridgefield, CT; her grandson Robert T. Himmelright of Lexington, KY; and her granddaughter Margaret I. Himmelright of NY, NY, survive her.

Nephews and nieces who survive her are Warren “Scooter” L. Simmons, Jr., and his family; Stuart C. Simmons; Gregory T. Simmons and his daughter; and Leslie Simmons Brille and her family.

Surviving cousins include her adopted “brother” William C. Putney whose parents took in Margaret and her brother when their mother Audrey was ill; Lansford W. Levitt and his family; Robert Simmons; and Jeffrey Lewis and his family.

Additionally, many friends who survive her include her longtime “sister” Elizabeth Hurst Simmons; Rosemary Baum who helped Margaret through family illnesses and losses in recent years; her former sister-in-law Caroline Price and her family; Lovenda, her hospice nurse; and all who cared for her in her last few weeks of life.

Her family especially appreciates all of her Meadow Ridge friends and staff, especially Activities Director Lauren Rachelson, who made Margaret’s life in Redding a dynamic and happy one.

In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations be made in Margaret’s memory to one of the following:

The Meadow Ridge Scholarship Fund

Meadow Ridge

100 Redding Road

Redding, CT 06896

Lucile Packard Foundation for Children’s Health

400 Hamilton Avenue, Suite 340

Palo Alto, CA 94301-1805