Peggy Jo Blenden died on Nov. 11, 2021, while visiting family in Columbia, Mo., at the age of 65. She lived with her husband, Michael Dale Blenden, in Del Norte, Colo. Her death was due to unexpected heart failure. Peggy was born in Fulton, Mo., on Dec. 26, 1955, to Barbara Gum Books and Maurice Tate Books.
Her childhood was spent riding her horse, exploring her family’s small farm and adventuring along her cherished rivers in the Missouri Ozarks with her immediate and extended family. She attended South Callaway High School in Mokane, Mo., before attending the University of Missouri, where she earned Bachelors and Masters of Science degrees from the School of Forestry, Fisheries and Wildlife.
During graduate school in 1980, she started dating her future husband, whom she married in Hamms Prairie, Mo., on Jan. 10, 1981. After their marriage, Peggy worked as a wildlife biologist, first with the Rosebud Sioux Tribe in South Dakota, and then the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Cold Bay, Alaska.
In 1988, Robin Michael Blenden was born, and she became a full-time mom. After 4 years in Homer, Alaska, Peggy and Michael moved to Kenmare, N.D., where Ian Dale Blenden was born in 1993. The family moved to Monte Vista, Colo., in 1995. After a brief stint in Evergreen, Colo., from 2014 to 2018, Peggy and Michael moved to Del Norte.
Peggy had many passions. She was a tireless reader and devoted herself to homeschooling and working with public schools to allow her sons the best education possible.
She was a committed conservationist, volunteering countless hours to the National Wildlife Refuge System, Friends of the San Luis Valley National Wildlife Refuges, Rio Grande Headwaters Land Trust, and Jefferson County Library system.
Her lifelong love of plants was filled with identifying, admiring and photographing wildflowers throughout the Missouri forests, the northern Great Plains, Alaskan tundra and southern Rocky Mountains. She brought her vegetable and flower gardening skills with her everywhere she lived. She gave her cats and dogs the best lives imaginable, possibly even spoiling them.
She loved both national and international travel, especially when birding was involved. Her cooking and baking interests and skills were epic.
She was preceded in death by her brother James Neal Books in 1975, her father in 1980 and mother in 2003.
She is survived by her brother Lee Books (67) Roswell, N.M.; husband Michael (68) Del Norte, Colo.; son Ian (28), Alamosa, Colo.; son Robin (33) and his spouse Kelli (33) Lafayette, Colo.; her dogs Millie and Abby; and cats Oliver and Tristen.
A celebration of life will be planned and advertised at a later date. Please consider making memorial contributions to the Conour Animal Shelter, 2825 Sherman Ave., P.O. Box 369, Monte Vista, CO 81144, urgasconouranimalshelter.org, 719-852-3366 or the San Luis Valley Animal Welfare Society, 76 El Rio Dr., Alamosa, Colo., slvaws.org, 719-587-9663.