Margaret “Peggy” Bair’s life legacy is certainly about mentorship. As principal flutist and woodwind section leader in the United States Navy Band, she nurtured every wind player who joined the band, from their audition to the day she retired. Outside the band, Bair taught flute lessons and workshops to young adults hoping to become professional musicians. Now, Bair’s guiding nature will live on in the Margaret “Peggy” Bair Endowed Music Scholarship at West Virginia University.
Bair came to WVU in the late 1970s to study under flute professor Joyce Catalfano. While at WVU, Bair accompanied a friend to an audition for the U.S. Navy Band in Washington, D.C. She brought her flute on the trip, not wanting to miss practice time. Speaking with administrators in the band while waiting for her friend to finish auditioning, she found out they had an opening for a flute player. They asked her to audition on the spot and was offered the position soon after.
Bair was not yet finished with her degree but knew she couldn’t pass up the opportunity. She took the job and finished her degree in music performance from a distance, coming back to Morgantown for recitals and finals.
Bair spent 30 years in the Navy, where she met her husband Aaron Porter, before retiring in 2009. She also performed with many other ensembles, orchestras and in solo recitals.
After Bair’s passing in 2016, Porter was left wondering what to do with a lifetime’s worth of flute music when he thought of WVU, and how his wife always spoke highly of her alma mater.
“Peggy loved her time at WVU and she enjoyed talking about it,” Porter said. “She found Joyce to be a great influence and she had a wonderful time as a member of the Mountaineer Marching Band and many other ensembles. It was an all-around great experience for Peggy.”
Porter came to Morgantown in April to gift Bair’s music to the WVU Flute Studio. After talking with administration in the College of Creative Arts, Porter decided to take the gift one step further by endowing a scholarship in Bair’s memory that will benefit a flute student in the School of Music.
“I couldn’t think of a better way to honor Peggy than through a scholarship,” Porter said. “She was so caring and truly an advocate for students who wanted to grow up to be professional musicians. She always wanted to help, and she saw the future of music in her students. This is what she would have wanted.”
To donate to the Margaret “Peggy” Bair Endowed Music Scholarship at West Virginia University, visit https://give.wvu.edu/music.