In the summer of 2008, Rocky and Peggy League of Durham set sail on a cruise to Alaska that offered extra activities, such as a train excursion, gold panning and zip-lining in Juneau.

“She was a little hesitant about (zip-lining), but once we got there she was the first in line,” Rocky League said Tuesday, choking up with emotion. “It was exhilarating. That was my bride. She made me so proud of her for doing that.”

Mrs. League, who was believed to be one of the oldest survivors in New England with cystic fibrosis, died Sunday. She was 65.

She was remembered by family this week as a woman who faced her illness with grace, courage and a fierce determination. Her husband, who has multiple sclerosis, spoke with admiration Tuesday about his wife’s passion to live. The couple shared many interests, including skiing, fly fishing, and deer and bird hunting.

“She was a better hunter than I am. As far as deer, she has gotten more than me. That’s really not something I want to admit,” he said, chuckling. “She did really good at fishing, too. … We were quite the team. I have my issues with MS and she had hers. If one of us couldn’t do something, the other could. Most often, we would figure it out.”

Mrs. League had that same gutsy determination as a kid. She grew up as one of four children on the family dairy farm in Topsham. As a girl, she did chores around the farm and played like a regular kid building forts and treehouses and playing in the woods.

She was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis at about age 11. Her sister, Mary Tajima, of Acton, Mass., said their parents never held her back from living life.

“Peggy was just a regular kid,” Tajima said. “They didn’t favor her. She was out there. I was asking for baby dolls and she was looking for the newest cowboy pistol set. None of that girlie girl stuff. She loved animals. She was always taking care of some stray cat. She loved horses. Give her animals and give her the outdoors and she was a happy camper.”

Mrs. League was a security guard at L.L. Bean for 20 years. She worked the front desk at the retailer’s distribution center in Freeport. Her husband said she was the first person employees saw when they went to work.

“I don’t know how she did it, but she knew 98 percent of the employees by first name,” he said. “She loved it. She loved meeting everyone and working with the people she worked with. Everyone loved working with Peggy.”

Mrs. League retired around 2003. After that, the Leagues kept busy. They enjoyed gardening, taking care of their dogs and riding ATVs. They restored a 1950 and a 1951 Chevy pickup truck. The first was rebuilt as a hot rod with a big engine, bucket seats and fat tires. The second was rebuilt as a stock truck.

“While I was doing engine work, I would give her a dirty part to clean and it would come back to me looking brand new,” her husband said. “We were a team. I’ve already had people comment that it’s going to be really hard just saying Rocky. It’s always been Rocky and Peggy. That’s our name – Rocky and Peggy. You didn’t see one without the other.”

According to recent patient registry data from the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, the median predicted age of survival for people with CF is in the early 40s. The illness began to affect Mrs. League’s lungs in her 50s. Her husband said her lung function went as low as 17 percent. He said she handled each day with dignity and grace.

“She’s been fighting hard battles. She never ever wanted to give up,” he said. “Finally, we had a little conversation. I said I know you’re getting tired. Whatever decision you want to make, I’ll fully support that and be beside you the whole way. Peggy then talked to her sister and 20 hours later, she let go. She gave me the best 33 years of my life.”

Melanie Creamer can be contacted at 791-6361 or at:

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