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Produced & Maintained by Idaho Mountain Express, Box 1013, Ketchum, ID 83340-1013 
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Copyright © 2002 Express Publishing Inc.
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For the week of February 20 - 26, 2002


U.S. Mint director had the ‘common touch’

Mary Peavey Brooks dies at 94

Express Staff Writer

Carey sheep rancher and former state Sen. John Peavey says that although his mother traveled in the nation’s highest political environs, he remembers her for her "common touch."

"You could put her in any kind of crowd of people, and they would love her," he said.

Mary Peavey Brooks, left, looks on during her tenure as director of the U.S. Mint as Treasury Secretary John Connally presents President Richard Nixon with the new Eisenhower dollar coin. Eisenhower’s widow, Mamie (Mary) Eisenhower, stands between Connally and Nixon. Photo courtesy  John Peavey

And Mary Elizabeth Thomas Peavey Brooks knew all kinds of people, in the highest circles of Washington society and the more common circles of everyday life in Blaine County.

In her Hailey home, there are four pictures of her, each with a different president—Presidents Dwight Eisenhower, Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, and Ronald Reagan.

Yet, a much tougher crowd, the farmers and ranchers at the Jack Lane store (now Starbucks in Ketchum) accepted her without question.

"She was the only woman they welcomed into their discussions of the prices and weights of lambs," Peavey said.

"She was just at home with farmers as she was with presidents."

Mary Peavey Brooks, of Hailey and Carey, passed away on Monday, Feb. 11, at the Bridgeview Estates in Twin Falls. She was 94.

She lived in Washington, D.C., during two periods. The first time she moved to Washington was in 1943, after her first husband Arthur Peavey died in a boating accident. She left Washington with her new husband Sen. C. Wayland Brooks, R-Ill., in 1948.

In 1969, Peavey Brooks returned to Washington as the director of the U.S. Mint, appointed by President Nixon.

Peavey remembers a story his mother told about an incident that happened just before Nixon resigned as president.

One day at the Mint, as she was leaving work for the day, she got a phone call.

"Mary, what are you doing for dinner?" the caller asked.

"I don’t know," she said, not recognizing the voice.

"Why not have dinner with us?" the caller asked.

"Who is this?"


"Dick who?"

"Dick, the president."

But, her son said, despite the power and allure of Washington, she was happy to leave the capital for her Idaho home.

"She loved the outdoors. She loved going out to see the sandhill cranes and sage hens in the Little Wood River drainage. She loved looking at the antelope," Peavey said.

And sometimes, her love of wildlife would get her into a little trouble.

She had a four-wheel-drive Subaru, and if something caught her attention, she would drive out to get a closer look.

Her son laughed from the memory of her getting stuck in a marsh.

"She drove that thing like she would ride a horse," Peavey said. "We’d find her stuck in the dangdest places."

Anyone reading her obituary cannot help but see she was big in the Republican Party. After all, her father, John Thomas, was a Republican senator from Idaho, she married a Republican senator and she was appointed director of the Mint by a Republican president.

But in her later years, her son said, she became disillusioned with the party.

As he put it, she "came out of the closet" and became a Democrat.

"She resented the growing corporate influence on the party, especially during the Reagan years. She knew what the score was, right up to the last day of her life."

An obituary appears on Page A26.


The Idaho Mountain Express is distributed free to residents and guests throughout the Sun Valley, Idaho resort area community. Subscribers to the Idaho Mountain Express will read these stories and others in this week's issue.