Peggy Hewett, a resident of the Redwoods and former manager of the local business organization, has seen it all.
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Peggy Hewett at The Redwoods.

When residents of the Redwoods take their regular bus tours of the scenic beauty and landmarks around the Bay Area, they often need a narrator to highlight their surroundings, as many of them have lived most of their lives outside of the 94941.

Their narrator is often one of their fellow Redwoods residents.

Peggy Hewett, 89, has lived in Mill Valley for nearly 30 years and in Marin for more than five decades, having worked at downtown Mill Valley stores, in the social studies department at Tam High and even as the manager of the Mill Valley Chamber of Commerce in the process.

Because of that deep history, Hewett takes the mic on Redwoods’ bus tours, recently pointing out highlights of the Marin Headlands to her fellow residents on a journey up Mount Tam.

“I’ve really loved narrating some of our excursions,” Hewett says.

Having grown up in Iowa, Hewett met her husband Paul in 1940 on a Sea Scout summer session at Lake Okoboji, Iowa, and they spent many days together after that sailing on the lake, where Peggy’s family had a summer cottage.

The couple married in 1946 and moved to Mill Valley in 1962 on the heels of Paul’s career in the U.S. Navy, including his service on the USS Twining during the Korean War. Over the years, the Hewetts had three children – Stephen, a landscaper in Novato, Rick, a retired teacher in Willits, and Joan, a resident of St. Helena and a nurse at Hospice of Napa – and Peggy Hewett also enjoys her four grandchildren and three great grandchildren.

The Hewett family’s history in Mill Valley provides a glimpse into the rich history of the 94941 itself.

Paul Hewett worked for companies like Fiberglass Engineering and Johns-Manville Corporation in San Francisco, and later ran an eponymous vending machine company – “Back in the days when we had cigarettes,” Peggy Hewett says with a laugh.

Peggy worked at Mayer’s department store on 2 Miller Ave., now occupied by Equator Coffee & Teas. Before it was the longtime home of the former LaCoppa Coffee, the building was home to Albert’s department store from 1939 to 1954, and then Mayer’s until 1973, according to the Mill Valley Historical Society. Including its basement, Mayer’s had three floors, and also had a men’s store at 22 Miller, now home to Piazza D’Angelo.

The Hewetts were active members of the Community Church of Mill Valley, and Peggy Hewett remains involved there. She once served as the president of the Outdoor Art Club, where she’s been a member since the 1980s.

Peggy Hewett ran the Mill Valley Chamber from 1982 to 1987, managing an organization that boasted a membership base of around 300, the same as the current Chamber. Each year, she organized the Mill Valley Memorial Day Parade, which is now run by Larry “the Hat” Lautzker and the I Love a Parade Committee.

Hewett recalled former KPIX weatherman Joel Bartlett announcing the parade and Mill Valley Lumber Co. supplying the flatbed trucks for floats. She also recounted the years her husband Paul dressed up like a cowboy and served as a parade marshal.

The Hewetts moved to Novato in the late 1980s. Paul Hewett passed away in October 2012 at the age of 88, prompting Peggy Hewett’s move to the Redwoods, for which Paul Hewett served as the board president in the early 1970s.

Hewett says she loves living at the Redwoods, and appreciates her role as someone who has returned to the town where she spent so many great years.

At the end of an excellent conversation, Hewett shares some wisdom with a fledgling staffer at the Chamber.

“If you can pull all of those businesses together, it’s a marvelous opportunity,” she says. “This is such a nice little town.”

Indeed.

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