A person can change in 66 years. At the very least, they’re going to look pretty different.
So when Robert Terrell, 96, and Margaret (Peggy) Burley, 75, ran into each other at Bonney Lake’s Cedar Ridge assisted living facility last August, neither of them realized they had met before — at an elementary school, where he was a fourth-grade teacher, and she was a part of his first ever class.
“It was one of the most pleasant surprises I’ve ever had,” Bob said.
Bob, a five-year resident of Cedar Ridge, and Peggy, who had moved into the facility just four months previous, only ran into each other because they were both walking their dogs at the time.
His Maltese, Gracie, isn’t always the friendliest to other dogs, so as they were pulling her and Peggy’s toy poodle, Buster, apart, they started talking.
They don’t recall the exact conversation, but Peggy said she most likely mentioned her son’s wife was a teacher, to which Bob probably said he was a teacher too.
From there, the two rediscovered their connection when they learned they were both at Pacific Elementary School in 1951 — with him as her teacher and her as his student — and the memories started flooding back.
Peggy’s class at Pacific Elementary was Bob’s first. He wasn’t entirely sure he wanted to be a teacher, but he said after meeting Peggy and her 29 fellow students, he never looked back.
“That first year with Peggy and those other kids, that was my best year of teaching, because it proved I could do the job,” Bob said.
Bob remembers most, if not all the students from that first class, and said Peggy was a soft spoken student who enjoyed learning. She recently told Bob she had a crush on her fellow student, Bobby Olson, at the time.
Peggy, who said she enjoyed Bob as his teacher, remembers stealing some chalk from his classroom one time.
“I was going to take it home and make hopscotch out on the sidewalk,” she said. Unfortunately, another student snitched, though Bob didn’t much care.
“Peggy could never get in trouble, that’s for sure,” Bob said.
While Bob rose up through the education system, teaching for six more years and then being principle at several other elementary schools in the Auburn School District, including West Auburn, Pacific, Algona, Chinook and Lea Hill, Peggy graduated high school, was married for 24 years and has two children and now six grandkids.
Bob, who was married for 72 years to his wife Josephine until she died last May, has three kids, six grandkids and now two great-grandchildren (“Emphasis on the ‘great,’” he said).
The two enjoy having lunch together at the living facility, and will occasionally play Bingo together, though he declines to join her at Pinochle, since he know’s she’ll always beat him.
Bob said he’s always wondered where his old students and fellow teachers ended up, but since reconnecting with Peggy, he wants to try and get a reunion together.
“I wish I could see them all again now,” he said.
Ariel Halstead, Cedar Ridge’s sales and marketing manager, said they’re working on a list of names so she can do some research and try to reach out to people from Bob’s past, adding she’s willing to host the reunion at the living facility.
Anyone who wants to connect with Bob or Peggy can email Halstead at firstname.lastname@example.org