They call her the Energizer Bunny, and this 100-year-old Meals on Wheels volunteer continues to help others with a power all her own
Altamonte’s Peggy Grundy is a woman on the move.
At age 100, she’s still delivering hot meals to seniors as a volunteer for Meals on Wheels, Etc. It was something she had done for years with her husband, Roland, after they both retired. When he passed in 1994, Peggy took a two-year hiatus. It was just too difficult without him. But a few years later, when a Sunday school friend offered to be her Meals on Wheels partner, Peggy was ready to give it another try. Today, Peggy is still very much on a roll, delivering meals and companionship to other seniors, all her junior, and showing no sign of stopping anytime soon.
Born in early 1919 in rural Fairmount, Maryland, Peggy left home at age 18 to live with her older sister in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
“I had no idea what I’d do, but I wound up working as a waitress,” says Peggy. “At work in the restaurant, I met Roland. He would keep asking me out, and I’d keep turning him down.
“I wasn’t going to go with someone I didn’t know!” Peggy laughs. “My friends would say, ‘He’s such a nice guy, you should go out with him.’ Finally, I broke down and did.”
Dinner, movie, and then home. Those were Peggy’s rules. It took Roland nearly a year-and-a-half and a whole lot of dinners and movies to make Peggy his wife.
In the early 1950s, the couple moved to Florida, a state they’d often visited on vacation. Roland saw promise and opportunity in the growing and nascent areas surrounding Orlando, where he quickly landed an accounting job. Life had become a welcome change from the hustle and bustle of Philadelphia. For years, they lived in Winter Park before buying a home 60 years ago in Altamonte Springs – the same home Peggy still lives in today.
“Back then, State Road 436 was just a two-lane thoroughfare,” Peggy recalls. “There were no other homes behind ours at the time, and you could see straight through to the other side of the road where just a school and a fast-food restaurant existed on either side of a forest of trees. It was considered the country here. You had to drive to 17-92 just to find jobs or any commercial activity.”
Peggy’s younger sister Elsie eventually moved down from Philly, too. Though 13 months apart, Peggy says she and Elsie were more like twins. So, when Elsie heard about a job opening at the Orlando Minute Maid plant where she worked, she encouraged Peggy to apply.
“They were looking for someone to conduct taste panels,” remembers Peggy. “I told Elsie, ‘I don’t know anything about juice!’ She told me to go anyway. I did it just to shut her up, but then I got the job. I worked there for 25 years until I retired in 1983.”
Once they were both retired, Peggy and Roland decided to volunteer for Meals on Wheels. It was something they loved doing together for almost nine years. And though she no longer has her favorite partner by her side, Peggy has remained joyful in continuing her volunteer work with friends.
“It’s wonderful knowing you’re doing something for somebody else,” says Peggy. “It keeps me from getting lonely. I enjoy interacting with the people I meet. One woman I especially loved was blind. Yet, when I’d ring her bell, you could hear her walking to the door with a tap, tap, tap of her cane. She took care of herself and always had a smile on her face. She never looked unhappy or miserable. She inspired me to realize that even if you think you can’t do something, sometimes you can if you really try.”
Asked how, at 100, she maintains a positive attitude about life, Peggy credits staying connected with friends, family, and the people she sees every week on her Meals on Wheels route.
“All that keeps me young at heart,” Peggy says. “That, and at least two cups of coffee a day,” she adds with a grin. “If I sit around doing nothing, I’ll just feel sorry for myself. I’ll keep volunteering as long as I’m able to do it.”
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