Peggy Henson, a popular teacher from Blunt and Eagle Butte, South Dakota, was named Wednesday as the woman who died Saturday, Oct. 12, in a one-car rollover west of Hayes in Stanley County.
Tony Mangan, spokesman for the state Highway Patrol, said Henson, 50, was driving a 2004 Buick LeSabre east on U.S. Highway 14 about four miles west of Hayes, a hamlet 34 miles west of Fort Pierre, about 10:52 a.m., Saturday when she lost control of the car.
It went into the north ditch and rolled.
Henson was alone in the car.
She was not wearing a seat belt and was thrown from the car and was found dead at the scene, Mangan said in a news release on Wednesday.
Henson was a popular teacher who had worked for the state’s Department of Education, as well as for high schools. She was an adjunct professor at Oglala Lakota College in Eagle Butte, according to her obituary.
She worked weekends as an advocate for women at Missouri Shores Women’s Shelter in Pierre.
In recent years, Henson had been teaching day and night in Eagle Butte: Family And Consumer Science (FACS) classes at Cheyenne-Eagle Butte High School and a variety of courses at Oglala Lakota College in the evenings and weekends, said Roxee Holloway, an executive assistant at the college.
Henson was born in Basin, WY, and was a South Dakota State University graduate.
“She taught several computer Basic classes, she did a class on child and adolescent development, and she did education classes each semester,” Holloway said.
Holloway taught physical education at the high school before taking her job at the college, and saw Henson in both schools as a teacher who went above and beyond her regular duties.
Henson was involved in the Natural Helpers Group, a nationally based program to help young people with adolescence, Holloway said.
“She was one of the head people to do prom activities and post-prom activities. She hosted a Tuesday Talking Circle where students could come in, or parents and community members, and share their thoughts on certain things. It was every Tuesday during the lunch hour so she would bring snacks,” Holloway said. “I feel it helped a lot of students, with the suicide rates being so high and all the drug use. She just helped so many people.”
“She was the most bubbly, the happiest person you have ever been around. She was just something.”
Jody Rust, who teaches English and journalism at the high school in Eagle Butte, wrote a tribute to her colleague in the West River Eagle weekly that came out Wednesday.
Rust said besides teaching her classes and helping with prom, Henson volunteered for “lock-ins, pumpkin carving, homecoming activities, concessions or just about anything else that needed an extra hand.
“Not only did she actively lead or assist with student-centered activities, she also took staff meeting notes, created Google documents for administration and staff to keep track of parent contacts or students’ eligibility lists, or made herself available to help figure out how to operate a desktop recording program or work through a glitch in SDMyLife (an online career exploration site for students), or write and ensure compliance with the state Perkins Grant, or participate in academic planning sessions — and all the other tasks she completed to serve the needs of (Cheyenne-Eagle Butte) High School, its students and its staff.”
Holloway was told that there were icy spots and slush on Highway 14 on Saturday morning and that it appeared Henson lost control and then over-corrected before going into the ditch.
“It’s hard for me to believe that she didn’t have a seat belt on,” Holloway said. “When you look at the statistics. . . It saves so many people’s lives.”
Henson’s funeral service will be at 1 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 24, in the Seventh-day Adventist Church, 1220 E. Robinson in Pierre, east of Riggs High School. A visitation and prayer service will be held in the church starting at 3 p.m., Wednesday, Oct. 23, with the prayer service at 5 p.m.
Rust said Henson was a confidant, a mentor and a friend to her.
“She is a servant of the people,” Rust wrote. “Even now, she will serve her students and people who knew her in the stories they tell about her, and the best way to honor her life and keep the legacy of her service alive will be to tell her stories and teach her lessons to others.”