Portrait of Wortz, Peggy Fouke

Wortz, Peggy Fouke

February 10, 1999

April 28, 1998

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Peggy Fouke Wortz, civic leader and descendent of an historic American family, discusses her relationship with the Riverside campus and her philosophy of philanthropy.
Excerpt from Transcript
Fouke Wortz: I had gone to St Louis—you'll be amused at this—to study to be a concert pianist.

Erickson: Oh, how wonderful. When did you start with the piano?

Fouke Wortz: Where?

Erickson: When?

Fouke Wortz: Oh, when I was about six or so.

Erickson: Oh, really. That's wonderful.

Fouke Wortz: I was in St. Louis. My father's sister invited me to go back to Berlin with her for the winter. Her husband, Uncle Irwin, was Treasury Attaché in Berlin for the U.S. Government.

Erickson: You said this was about wartime, too, didn't you.

Fouke Wortz: Yes, it was before the war broke out. So I packed up my clothes, got a new trousseau and started to go over.

Erickson: You were going to go over by ship?

Fouke Wortz: Yes. We were going to go over, and I got as far as New York. The U.S. Ambassador did not go back.

Erickson: Was your uncle still there?

Fouke Wortz: He was still there.

Erickson: But the Ambassador didn't go.

Fouke Wortz: Yes, um hmm. So Mother and Bruce both came to New York and said, "No." And they were right.

Erickson: Oh sure. What was going on then? Do you remember?

Fouke Wortz: Oh, it was obvious to us what was going on, because Hitler was making great strides in amassing an army.

Erickson: Um hmm.

Fouke Wortz: We were there in '34, and it was very obvious then.

Erickson: Oh, even in '34?

Fouke Wortz: Oh yes.

Erickson: This was another trip you are talking about in '34.

Fouke Wortz: Yes.

Erickson: And then you didn't go back in what, '38 or '39?

Fouke Wortz: Yes. '38, I think, or '39.

Erickson: What was … Tell us about your uncle. What happened to him?

Fouke Wortz: Well, I hate to say this, but we feel he was murdered.

Erickson: Hmm.

Fouke Wortz: He was in the U.S. and getting ready to go back to Sweden.

Erickson: He went from Germany to Sweden?

Fouke Wortz: Yes. And then he came over here, and then he was to go back to Sweden. He was at … oh, one of those houses where they prep them, you know with everything. And we just felt he knew too much. But my aunt was never allowed to see his body after he died. The casket was sealed.

Questions Regarding this Oral History Project should be directed to Jan Erickson at jan.erickson@ucr.edu.