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Wednesday, Jul 30, 2014

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Memorial Wall at Athens High School in Athens, Ohio

Ann Peden Urbach donated bricks in honor of her daughters and members of the Athens High School 1944 football championship team to support Athens High School’s new sports stadium, the Scott Riggs and Family Stadium R. Basil Rutter Field.

Photographer: Karissa Conrad

Ann Peden Urbach

Ann Peden Urbach

Photo courtesy of: “OHIO Women Through the Decades: 1940s-2010s”

Peggy Viehweger and two of her three sisters

Executive Producer Peggy Viehweger, middle, and her sisters, Pat Seitsinger, left, and Mary Helen "Babe" Turner, right, at the premiere of Ohio University Women in Philanthropy’s documentary, "OHIO Women Through the Decades: 1940s-2010s."

Photographer: Stephen Reiss

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Scholarship established in Athenian’s name benefits Athens High School graduates headed to OHIO

Daughters and brother of Ann Peden Urbach honor the legacy of their mother, sister


Athens native and Ohio University alumna Peggy Viehweger remembers when times were tough growing up in a house on Kurtz Street. She and her three sisters were raised by their mother, Ann Peden Urbach, who passed away in March of this year, and remembers well how her mom, a full-time professional in social work, used her creativity and resourceful nature to make ends meet.   

“We rented rooms to college students—at one point we had five student renters. She also was a hostess at the restaurant in the Ohio University Inn and typed students' papers for $1 per page!” Viehweger said.

Urbach, like Viehweger, was an Athens native, an Athens High School and Ohio University graduate. Urbach was the daughter of OHIO football coaching legend Don Peden, for whom OHIO’s football stadium is named. Viehweger said when the time came to consider how to honor their hard-working yet modest mother’s amazing life and legacy, it was easy to decide what to do. She and her three sisters, Patricia “Pat” Seitsinger, Kathleen “Kate” Kuczaj, and Mary Helen “Babe” Turner, and her mother’s brother Don C. Peden Jr., established the Ann Peden Urbach Scholarship, an endowed gift that will benefit students who graduated from Athens High School and who have choosen to attend Ohio University.

“It was easy to decide what to do to honor our mom and our uncle’s sister: It was a natural choice,” said Viehweger who graduated in 1971 with a bachelor’s degree in English. “She was a very anti ‘town verses gown’ person. It bothered her when one put down the other. She supported Athens and the university both equally, so endowing a gift that recognizes both Athens and Ohio University seemed like a good choice.”

Urbach had a robust support network of friends throughout the time she was raising her children on her own, Viehweger said. 

“Our grandfather, Don Peden, essentially hired the next generation of coaches. Our mom was great friends with all of those coaches and their wives. All of the families would go to each other’s houses to socialize. It was a solid social group.” 

When Urbach retired, she spent the rest of her life traveling and volunteering for a number of charities. But she did it quietly, and didn’t look for recognition, said Viehweger, a corporate executive who serves as a National Trustee on the university’s Board of Trustees, is a member of the university’s Foundation Board, is a volunteer for OHIO’s The Promise Lives: The Campaign for the College of Arts and Sciences and is a member of the university’s Women in Philanthropy.

“My mom was very modest and low key, but very smart. She was not one to blow her own horn but she had strong convictions. She was classy,” Viehweger said. “We felt like we had to choose a way to honor her that she would approve of. We were able to talk to her about this gift idea before she died and she approved of it because she recognized the value to students.”

When the Athens High School’s sports stadium was destroyed by a tornado in September, 2010, Urbach was proud to support the facility that replaced it, Viehweger said. The new stadium was paid for by a combination of insurance claim income and community support. Urbach was a cheerleader at Athens High School in the 1940s and, in keeping with her love of Athens, she purchased bricks in the new stadium’s brick wall memorial section in honor of each of the members of the high school’s 1944 champion football team. Separately, the family bought another brick commemorating the five Urbach women graduating from the high school.

“I remember mom called me and joked that she had spent our inheritance on that wall,” Viehweger said. 

Viehweger said Urbach lived life to the fullest as an Athenian. Having an Athenian headed to OHIO benefit from her estate is a natural fit, she said.  

“Mom only lived about five years of her life outside Athens; she loved Athens. The atmosphere, the environment, the geography, and all the people she had grown up with, worked with, and called friends,” Viehweger said. “She had a very full life in a small town with a big university and felt part of it all. She didn’t have an easy life but she never complained about that ever. It’s so appropriate to use her estate to help someone from Athens go to Ohio University.”

The Ann Peden Urbach Scholarship is part of Ohio University's The Promise Lives Campaign, which will raise $450 million by June 30, 2015, and already has secured more than $438 million toward its goal in support of students, faculty, programs, partnerships and select facilities at Ohio University. Learn more at www.ohio.edu/campaign. 

Viehweger is the executive producer of "OHIO Women Through the Decades: 1940s-2010s" a documentary film about the OHIO alumna experience as told by 10 OHIO alumna, which premiered in Athens November 6 at Baker University Center Theater. Copies are available for purchase at Ohio University Alumni Association’s Bobcat Store.