Born the eldest child of a migrant farm family, Peggy June Hanak, a Commerce, TX resident for close to 50 years, had a colorful, adventurous 83 years of life filled with love and family. She grew up picking cotton in rural Texas and pulled herself out of poverty through pure will and determination. She played professional basketball, joined the Air Force and became the first Womens’ Chaplain assistant in the Air Force, making Air Force history. She became a lifelong educator and educational diagnostician, and she substitute taught even after retiring until she was almost 80.
She had four children over a 21 year time period and was widowed twice. Then she found love again in her late 70s. She had grandchildren, great grandchildren and even great great grandchildren spanning generations.
She was a kind and generous person who never met a stranger. She loved to make others laugh, and her storytelling about her life‘s adventures (some of which were borderline tall tales) made her impossible to forget. There was the story about that time she became the Puerto Rican national Limbo champion in the early 60s and the story about the alligator her sons brought home to live in the bathtub until he got too big. The stories and laughs were endless, and you were usually pretty sure that at least 80% of it was fact, but the other 20% was anyone‘s guess.
Her Texas accent, loud voice and kindness made her stand out everywhere in her extensive travels. She was a Texan no matter where she went and became pretty famous in parts of the Czech Republic with her husband‘s students and colleagues for her Texas chili. She loved fiercely and unconditionally and put others before herself. She was strong and tough, but gentle and loving all at the same time.
She was preceded in death by her first husband Ralph Ronald Koch, second husband Miroslav John Hanak, son Hans Koch, parents Wylie and Edith Mitchell and seven of her siblings. She leaves behind son Jeff Koch, daughter Carrie Koch, daughter Jennifer Hanak, partner Bill Heitholt, her many grandchildren and extended family. She will be missed tremendously by those who knew and loved her.
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