July 4, 1929 — Aug. 20, 2019
Few people were as well-known in South Buffalo for as many years as Margaret A. "Peg" Hempling.
People knew her from her 25 years of work in her husband's South Park Avenue pharmacy, from the Hollywood Avenue home from whose porch she monitored events on the street for 55 years, or as the matriarch of a large family that was touched by tragedy with the loss of three children.
In her mother's eulogy, her daughter, Margaret "Margie" McGlynn said, "I used the word 'stranger' once and she told me she didn’t know any strangers, because every person she met would become a friend, and she went out of her way to talk to just about everyone she came across." This, her daughter said, "could be frustrating if you were trying to get in or out of somewhere quickly with her."
Just over a month ago, some 80 friends and relatives gathered to honor Mrs. Hempling's extraordinary 90 years of life. On Aug. 20, 2019, she died in her longtime home after a sudden decline.
"She was a strong woman," said her daughter. "She always said her faith got her through it, but she would just face her challenges and obstacles head-on."
Mrs. Hempling was born at home in the Old First Ward, the second child of six of Emmett and Grace Guise O'Shei.
After graduating from St. Brigid's grade school in 1945, Mrs. Hempling earned a business certificate in 1947 from St. Ann's Commercial School.
At 15, she went to stay with Bertha Buckley, one of her mother's sisters, to keep her company and help with her two young children when her husband, Joe, was deployed with the Marines. Joe Buckley died at Iwo Jima, so Mrs. Hempling lived there for six years, until she was married. "I couldn't leave her alone with those young children," Mrs. Hempling said.
She did clerical work at Liz Savoy, then worked at Monroe Abstract and Title Corp., her daughter said.
She met her future husband, Edward J. Hempling, when he drove her and other members of a wedding party home after the wedding. At age 90, she was still chucking over the fact that she left the house by a back way while he lingered out front to meet her again. He finally had to ask a mutual friend for her number, Mrs. Hempling said.
The two married on June 9, 1951, in St. Brigid's Church. Mr. Hempling became a pharmacist and in 1960 purchased the pharmacy on South Park at Crystal Avenue. Between children, Mrs. Hempling was the business's bookkeeper, payroll and accounts manager and worked the counter during busy times, her daughter said.
"She was extremely well-known on Hollywood Avenue," where the family moved in 1964, her daughter said. "She was always sitting out on the porch, so neighbors would come by and talk to her, and people driving by would wave to her. Everyone would see her and want to talk to her; they loved her."
The Hemplings had eight children, but lost three as children. Timothy died after contracting measles as a toddler; Judith and Susan were diagnosed with homocystinuria, a rare inherited disorder in which the body cannot process amino acids.
"She was advised that they needed such intensive care that she should institutionalize them," said her daughter. "She would never even consider it. They were her children and she would care for them in her home. She would often have one or both sleeping in her room." Caring for them through seizures, blood clots and strokes, she made their lives happy with their favorite TV shows, food and trips to the zoo and parks.
Her daughter noted that nearly 100 people commented on the Facebook post announcing her mother's death. "People wrote things like, 'She was so nice to me when I would come in to buy candy or to get medicine for my parents, and then I would run into her years later and she always remembered my name,' all sorts of accolades," her daughter said.
Mrs. Hempling's husband, Edward J. Hempling, died on Dec. 6, 2005, after 54 years of marriage. Her brother, William O'Shei, also died.
Besides Margaret McGlynn, Mrs. Hempling is survived by three other daughters, Donna Lawrence, Diane O'Connell and Joann Horrigan; a son, Edward Hempling; two brothers, Francis and Joseph O'Shei; two sisters, Shirley Ann Saulter and Elizabeth Wesolowski; 11 grandchildren; eight great-grandchildren; and many cousins, nieces and nephews.
A Memorial Mass will be said at 9:30 a.m. Saturday in Our Lady of Charity's St. Ambrose Worship Site, 65 Ridgewood Road.