Thelma Peikes, 94, volunteer

Posted: June 08, 2014

Thelma Peikes, 94, of Norristown, a community volunteer for many years, died Monday, June 2, of causes related to aging at Shannondell, a retirement community in Audubon.

Mrs. Peikes was cheerful to the end, reflecting her upbeat personality. Although hospitalized at one point, when asked how she was, she replied: "I'm perfect," said her daughter Judy Chesnick.

Raised and schooled in Toronto, Mrs. Peikes married Irwin L. Peikes there 64 years ago. The two settled in Norristown with their young family.

Her husband became chief of obstetrics and gynecology at Sacred Heart and Montgomery Hospitals in Norristown and delivered more than 9,000 babies. He died in 2007 at 90.

Mrs. Peikes focused on family and volunteer work, which she had begun as a teenager for the Jewish National Fund. She was honored for her early work by Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir.

Mrs. Peikes was a longtime board member of Tiferet Bet Israel, a synagogue in Blue Bell, and its predecessor, the Norristown Jewish Community Center.

She served as president of the synagogue's Women's League and chaired fund-raising committees for the Jewish Theological Seminary and Jewish National Fund.

For 13 years, she ran the art festival at the Norristown Jewish Community Center, bringing paintings, sculpture, and art programs to the community. She was a member of the synagogue's first adult bat mitzvah class.

"She would invite school groups in to see it because she felt art should be part of their lives," her daughter said. "She taught us tolerance for all and being part of a community."

An active volunteer for her children's schools, she served on the auxiliaries of Sacred Heart and Montgomery Hospitals.

Among her accolades were the prestigious Chapel of the Four Chaplains Legion of Honor Award, the State of Israel Tribute Award, and the Mary Weiss Woman of Achievement Award given by the synagogue.

In addition to her daughter, Mrs. Peikes is survived by three other daughters, Debby, Susan Peikes Gantman, and Rebecca; nine grandchildren; and a great-grandchild. Gantman is president judge of Pennsylvania Superior Court.

Funeral services were June 3.

Donations may be made to the Thelma and Irwin Peikes Scholar-in-Residence Fund at Tiferet Bet Israel, 1920 Skippack Pike, Blue Bell, Pa. 19422.


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