Fourteen years ago, Peggy Henry was invited to tour the Florence Fuller Childhood Development Center in Boca Raton. The nonprofit center, now 40 years old, provides after-school programs for children from low-income families.
A new mother at the time, Henry remembers anticipating feeling sad seeing the children who had so little and knowing her daughter had so much.
“But when I went there, I was so happy to see they were happy,” she said. “It was a profound moment for me. It was not about having stuff, it was about having basic needs and feeling safe.”
“I wanted to help them continue the service,” Henry said. She has been involved with the center ever since and this month takes on a leadership role as chairman of the board of directors.
Before Christmas, Henry and her daughter adopted a class and went shopping for gifts for them.
A long-time Boca Raton philanthropist, Henry is the ex-wife of commodities trader John Henry, who owns the Boston Red Sox and once owned the Florida Marlins.
When she moved from their Boca Raton home two years ago, she didn’t think about moving as far as Gulf Stream, she said, “not that it’s that far away.” A friend had always spoken highly of the town and showed her the house that has since become her home.
“I fell in love with it immediately,” said Henry, who grew up in Fort Lauderdale. “It has a real Florida feeling. I’m not a fan of the Mediterranean or Mizner looks. It (her home) has a more eclectic look. It has a great flow to it. Coming from a much larger house, it gives me a great deal of happiness.”
She and her former husband share custody of their teenage daughter, who recently became a big sister when her dad and his new wife had a child.
“I have a home in Boston, too, so I can be close to my daughter when she’s with her father.”
Henry’s family also includes a scruffy little adopted Bichon named Perry.
“He’s just the best,” Henry said.“I’m happy where I am in life right now, having good friends, knowing who I am and living a more authentic life.”
— Mary Thurwachter
Q. Where did you grow up? How do you think that has influenced you?
A. I’m a native Floridian! I was born and raised in Fort Lauderdale. The past eight years I’ve spent part of my time in Boston. It’s a great city to live in and there is so much to do. I’ve traveled to many places, but it always feel likes home when I return to Florida.
I didn’t have the opportunities growing up that I have been fortunate to have now. I feel that has kept me grounded and grateful.
Q. What life accomplishments are you most proud of?
A. I am most proud of my accomplishments as a mother. I am so proud of the young woman my daughter has become. There isn’t anything else as important to me than her happiness. She has a wonderful life filled with unique experiences that she doesn’t take for granted. She’s a very special person and I am proud.
Q. What is it about the Florence Fuller Child Development Centers that inspires you to become involved?
A. I became involved with the centers over 14 years ago, just after having my daughter. I was invited to a tour and still remember that day. The children were so happy and friendly as we walked into each classroom. It was evident that they were provided a safe and nurturing environment. The centers provide quality child care, early education and family support and prepare the children for a lifetime commitment of learning and social achievement, while empowering their families to build a brighter future.
It is important to me to do my part in ensuring the children have the same opportunities of those more fortunate. I’m excited to be taking a bigger role as incoming chair of the board.
Q. How did you choose to make your home in Gulf Stream?
A. One of my best friends and [a] Gulf Stream resident, Caron Dockerty, helped me find my perfect home after a long search. I was beginning a new life and it was important to find a place I would be happy. I’ve enjoyed making it a home and I feel it reflects who I am today. I couldn’t be happier with my choice!
Q. What is your favorite part about living in Gulf Stream?
A. My favorite part of living in Gulf Stream is being close to the ocean. Late at night when it’s quiet and a clear sky, I’ll stand in my back garden and look up at the moon while listening to the ocean. It’s a beautiful, calming sound.
Q. What music do you listen to when you need inspiration? When you want to relax?
A. Since my teenager controls the radio selection most often, we listen to the Top 40. When I find myself driving and singing along, I know I’m having a good day.
When I want to relax, I like to be quiet. I have a fountain outside that is just the perfect background sound to relax. When I really want to relax, I put golf on TV!
Q. If your life story were made into a movie, whom would you want to play you?
A. Diane Lane. She’s timeless, classic and gracious. I’ve always enjoyed her as an actress and I think she would be a woman I could have a friendship with.
Q. Have you had mentors in your life? Individuals who have inspired your life decisions?
A. I’ve been fortunate to have several mentors in my life. My first mentor has become a dear friend that I met more than 20 years ago when I was dating John. Marian was an interior designer from Memphis, helping him with a new home in Connecticut. We spent years working together on several projects. She was the most interesting, chic older woman that I had met and I admired her in many ways I found a love for interior design while learning from Marian. It wasn’t long that I realized the lessons I learned helped me in life as well. I feel my sense of style, balance and confidence developed during my years with Marian and continue to help me be the person I am today.
Q. Who or what makes you laugh?
A. My friends make me laugh! I count on my friends more than ever and it is so good to have friends that you can laugh with in good times and bad. I’m lucky to have some very funny friends. Also, my daughter and I always enjoy funny animal videos! She searches on YouTube for the best and we always have a good laugh together.
Q. Do you have a favorite quote that inspires your decisions?
A. “It is what it is!” I’m not sure who said it originally, but I have a friend that says it often. For me, it’s a simple way of putting a situation into perspective. A decision isn’t such a challenge when you accept the reality.