50 Years and Counting
By Debbie Lagestee • Photos by Valerie & Ed Photography
Bob and Peg Russell are the quintessential high school sweethearts. Bob played football, and Peg was a cheerleader. Their families attended the same church in the suburbs of Philadelphia since they were babies. Still, their paths did not cross until they were in youth group together. Peg was sitting in church one day with a girlfriend. She glanced up at the choir loft, and there sat Bob, looking very handsome. She coordinated an introduction, Bob jokes, “I didn’t have any chance of escape!” Soon after, Peg invited Bob to escort her to a 9th-grade dance. He accepted; however, being a senior, he did not tell any of his friends about the dance. The rest is history! They were married 4 years later in the same church where they first met. It was an evening candlelight wedding. The seven bridesmaids each wore a different pastel color which was called a rainbow wedding. The groomsmen were decked out in tails. It was the perfect beginning to a lifelong marriage.
On April 3, 2021, they celebrated their 50th Wedding Anniversary. Peg dreamed of having a large reception with family and friends, but the pandemic prevented that type of gathering. Instead, they celebrated at Peninsula Grill, one of Charleston’s finest restaurants. They were treated like royalty with complimentary champagne and dessert. They continued their celebration in Hilton Head, relaxing in a beachfront condo. Although it was a much quieter celebration than they had anticipated, it was terrific nonetheless.
Bob graduated from Drexel University in 1970 with a BS in Business Administration in Accounting. He worked full-time at an accounting firm while pursuing his Master’s degree in Finance from Drexel. Bob also earned his Certified Public Accountant certificate from Pennsylvania. He worked at Day & Zimmerman Consulting firm in Philadelphia. While there, he consulted on the railroad consolidation. This included testifying to Congress. Another memorable project was working with the Miami-Dade Water Authority. This position necessitated living in Coral Gables, Florida, for 3 months during the winter. It was a significant change from the cold and snow of Pennsylvania and a glimpse of life without harsh winters. Bob left the firm after seventeen years, when he and 2 friends started their own firm, Mainline Management, working with various railroads across the country. Bob later became the Controller at Wetherell Inc. and the Treasure for Netzch, a Greman-owned company. Bob continued to consult with Netzch after moving to SC but finally retired 2 years ago.
Peg has dedicated her life to educating children. In 1972 she earned her BS in Education from West Chester University in Pennsylvania. Peg later received her Master’s Equivalency from the state of Pennsylvania. She taught in three of the elementary schools in the William Penn School District for fourteen years. After the birth of their second son, Peg left her teaching position but continued her passion for working with children. She opened a home daycare for teachers’ children giving their son built-in playmates until he was in first grade. Then, Peg was called to be a Youth Director at The First Presbyterian Church in Springfield, PA. She maintained her position for 6 years. When they relocated, Peg became the Director of Christian Education at The First Presbyterian Church in Phoenixville, PA. She served for 16 years until her retirement.
Peg and Bob have 2 grown sons, Phillip and Mark. Phillip and his wife Jessica have 3 children, and they live in Virginia. Their son Mark is engaged to be married, and his fiancé Kira has a son. They are looking forward to beginning their life together in Pennsylvania. Peg and Bob love it when the grandkids come for a visit. They designated one of the bedrooms in their house the “crew quarters”. It’s the bunkhouse for the grandkids!
Peg and Bob also have a cat, whose official name is Missy, but Peg affectionately calls her “Little Girl.” However, she is quite the opposite of little, weighing in at 17 pounds. She is currently on a diet and enjoys spending time on the screened porch.
Bob and Peg share the love of sailing. They owned a 25-foot sailboat Zephyrus. They began sailing in Ocean City, NJ, then moved to the Chesapeake Bay, where they sailed out of Georgetown Yacht Basin in Galena, MD, on the Sassafrass River.
They spent vacations and weekends sailing to different places on the Chesapeake. “There’s nothing better after a great day of sailing than swinging on the hook while relaxing in the cockpit with a favorite adult beverage and the love of your life,” said Peg. When the boys were young, Bob would fill the cockpit with water to create a swimming pool for them to play in as part of the after-sail routine. Unfortunately, their sailing days came to an end when the boys began playing baseball and travel soccer. With the busy sports schedules, there were not enough hours in a weekend to enjoy Zephyrus.
Retirement has not slowed them down a bit. Bob and Peg have always been involved in their church and giving back to their community. Bob did mission work with People to People. This group provided meals to two different shelters in Philadelphia. In addition, Bob cooked pancakes and scrambled eggs twice a month, early Saturday mornings. Bob and Peg are both ordained Elders in the Presbyterian Church in the United States of America. Peg currently serves as a ruling Elder at James Island Presbyterian Church and is on the membership committee. She also teaches Sunday school. Bob sings in their excellent choir, which he enjoys immensely. Twice a month, they deliver Meals on Wheels all around James Island. The church was ahead of its time live streaming its services for years, so transitioning to all virtual during the pandemic was relatively simple. Peg says, “We were thrilled to find such a wonderful congregation. The pastors are amazing preachers, and the people couldn’t be nicer.” In addition to church on Sundays, they love watching the Philadelphia Eagles play football! All of the grandchildren have Eagles’ jerseys, which they proudly wear on gamedays.
When Bob and Peg began preparing for retirement, they searched several Florida areas for the perfect place to move. Concurrently, they vacationed in Charleston and fell in love with the city, which redirected the search. First, they looked at a 55+ community but decided they would rather live in a community with people of all ages. Bolton’s Landing fit the bill. After touring their current lot surrounded by the beautiful wetlands, they knew it was the perfect place for their retirement. They built their home in 2016 and were welcomed by fabulous neighbors. They enjoy having young families around them as they love watching the children grow. “It is a wonderful community where people care about and for each other. Our neighbors are fantastic. Even though some have moved, we remained friends”, claimed Peg.
Bob and Peg appreciate the neighbors who help each other with food trains when needed, lend a helping hand when asked, and the community gatherings, including food trucks and the veteran’s group. One thing they’ve learned over the years is little things can mean so much.
Bob and Peg keep busy with many activities. They enjoy spending time on Folly Beach, reading, visiting family, friends, and their grandchildren. They love having the freedom to travel or stay home and take advantage of the wonderful on-goings at the nearby Waring Senior Center and the new Bees Ferry Library. Shopping local is important to them. They believe small businesses are the backbone of this country. Therefore, they often use Carolina Bay Neighbors as a resource when searching for the things they need.
In their 50 years of marriage, they have seen many things, been to many places, raised a family, and created more memories than they can count. But, they can count on one thing: they will continue to live life to the fullest, side by side!