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Peg Elliott Mayo

March 31, 1929

Peg Elliott Mayo (1929 - 2018)

Born Juanita Margaret Elliott on March 31, 1929, in Point Loma, California, Peg Elliott Mayo died of natural causes on her beloved land overlooking the Yaquina River in Nashville, Oregon, on December 19, 2018. She is survived by her husband, Don Pauls, a daughter, two sons, and three grandchildren. Peg and Don left Point Loma for Summit, Oregon, in 1980 and moved about three miles down the road to their 77 pristine acres in Nashville in 1990, which they converted into a Land Trust with a determination to forever protect and preserve its natural splendor.

Peg enjoyed an unusual range of interests and talents. Best known as a gifted psychotherapist and captivating writer, she was also an accomplished basket weaver, potter, photographer, and designer of elaborate buttons. She earned a Master’s degree in Social Work from San Diego State University. Her first position as a therapist was at the Salvation Army’s Door of Hope, where she helped dozens of single women build productive lives after giving birth in an era where the stigma for unwed mothers was stifling. Some of the girls she counseled went on to build distinguished careers and continued to turn to her for years. She subsequently, during her long career, served as a Social Worker for a number of other innovative programs as well as in conventional settings, including the San Diego County Department of Mental Health, and also in private practice.

Perhaps her most notable contribution to the mental health field was when she established in 1969 Lifeline, one of the country’s first free youth-oriented hotline and drop-in counseling centers, hosted by the San Diego Downtown YMCA. The program gained national recognition for its creativity in competently addressing the serious social challenges of youthful drug abuse, depression, and suicide, was the subject of formal academic studies, and led to an invitation for Peg to address a major national psychiatric conference in New York City, which she did with wit and grace.

After moving to Oregon, Peg established a private psychotherapy practice, taught at the local college, and for 15 years wrote a weekly newspaper column for the Corvallis Gazette-Times which captured the hearts of the community

Peg’s literary career included fiction and non-fiction books, essays, stories, and even the occasional poem. Her co-authored Rituals for Living and Dying (Harper Collins) was praised by Ram Dass, Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, and Stephen Levine, three renowned leaders in helping people face death and grief. She also wrote more than a dozen novels, many with the theme of Celtic life and spirituality, harkening back to her Irish roots. One of her favorites, Blind Rafftery: Seven Nights of a Wake, was turned into a play.

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