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Morgantown Service League hosts annual dinner

STAR CITY — The Morgantown Service League held their annual dinner ending their fiscal year. Monday night, at the Knights of Columbus, in Star City, they welcomed their new officers and board of directors. Outgoing president Iris Smith made remarks about the year and welcomed new members to the group. The Morgantown Service League is known for the works in community projects.

Afterward, Smith welcomed to the stage Peggy Cooper, who portrays Eleanor Roosevelt through the History Alive! program from the West Virginia Humanities Council. Roosevelt was known for changing the way the country perceived the first lady.

“I think it’s very important that our boys and girls learn history in school so that we never lose the freedoms that were so highly fought for in this great country of ours,” Roosevelt said.

She was most commonly known in West Virginia for the creation of Arthurdale, the very first homestead in America. It is often referred to as “Eleanor’s Little Village.” Roosevelt was also well known for her willingness to visit places in the community and offer a helping hand.

“You don’t have to do something grand or be the president or a movie star or something to make a real difference in your community,” she said.

Peggy Cooper broke character after her program and talked about how she was approached by two women who told her she looked like Roosevelt. She said she never thought about portraying her — as she was in costume at the time portraying another person from history. Since then, she acquired many different artifacts relating to The First Lady and finds her story to be very compelling.

“I just think she’s phenomenal, she’d be phenomenal today,” said Cooper.

She said we often think of Roosevelt as the older woman often portrayed in pictures — but she said was a beautiful young woman. Cooper said she doesn’t think she gets a whole lot of mention is history classes, at least she said she didn’t when she was in school.

Roosevelt notably went flying in Amelia Earhart’s plane, something that was very out of turn for a woman of her time. Cooper said she also portrays Earhart, as well as other figures from history.

“She went up in an airplane — that’s like you and I saying let’s go ride in a spaceship after dinner,” she said.

Cooper said many people did not know that Franklin Delano Roosevelt was disabled when he was president. Because of his handicap, Eleanor really took on a lot of unconventional roles as the first lady. Cooper said she essentially raised their five children alone. She also campaigned for JFK later on in life.