Margaret French Sterns

Published 11:42 am Saturday, September 9, 2023

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Margaret French Sterns, 101, passed away on Monday, August 28, 2023 at Fellowship Village Care Center in Basking Ridge, NJ after a brief hospice stay. Margaret, known to family and friends as Peggy, was born in Seymour, CT in October 1921, one of three children to Carlos Hayden French and Dorothy Burt French. She attended the Oxford School and the Masters School in Dobbs Ferry, NY, and Pine Manor Junior College in Wellesley, MA. She was married to Lt. Arthur Hammond “Bud” Keeney Jr. (Annapolis, 1942) in Carson City, NV, in 1942. Lt. Keeney was lost at sea in the Japanese Theater in May 1945. She wed Edwin A. Sterns in January 1951. She had lived in West Hartford, CT for 40 years and Avon, CT for 33 years before moving to Bedminster in November 2021. She was predeceased by her first husband, Arthur H. Keeney Jr.; by her second husband, Edwin A. Sterns who died December 12, 1996; by a sister, Nancy French Safford; and by a brother, Carlos H. French II.

Peggy delighted in gardening, sports, traveling, and entertaining. An avid Boston Red Sox fan and UConn Lady Huskies basketball enthusiast, she could cite sports statistics en par with most ESPN analysts. She was an active member of the Junior League of Hartford, and Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR), as well as the Seedling Garden Club of West Hartford, where her enviable skill in growing stunning, oft-temperamental orchids was showcased. She developed a deep knowledge of Impressionist art as a decades-long volunteer docent and tour guide at the Hill-Stead Museum in Farmington, CT, and she even visited France to enhance her understanding of the masters. She and Ed frequently traveled throughout Europe and Asia, and, as a solo traveler, she embraced exploration of such locales as India and Machu Pichu, Peru. She frequently entertained a wide circle of friends centered around the Wood Pond area of West Hartford, and treasured her summers with family and friends at Groton Long Point, CT. She was also a life-long tennis player who learned to golf in her 70s, developing a powerful drive that allowed her to enjoy playing for many years. Peggy was a skilled bridge player, hosting bridge club in her home well into her 90s. Her active lifestyle allowed her to live independently until just after her 100th birthday. Peggy’s quick wit, dry sense of humor, and stalwart strength in the face of adversity made her an extraordinary role model for all who were lucky enough to know her.

She is survived by her three children: Arthur H. Keeney III (Alice) of Engelhard, NC; Dorothy Sterns Albright (Dale) of Bedminster, NJ; and Stephen H. Sterns of New York City; grandchildren, Laura Keeney (Carson); Grant Keeney (Ursula); William “Bill” Lenhard III; and Emily Broeman Farnum (Henry “Whip”); great grandchildren, Emilio Zavala; Hayden, Henry, and Libby Farnum; and Teddy Lenhard.

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A memorial service and interment of her cremains will be held at a later date in Connecticut. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to The Hill-Stead Museum, 35 Mountain Road, Farmington, CT  06032 (Kathanne Wray at or 860-677-4787 ext. 111) or The Elizabethan Gardens, 1411 National Park Drive, Manteo, NC  27954 (252-473-3234). Arrangements are by Layton Funeral Home, 475 Main Street, Bedminster, NJ.