Professor Emeritus, Journalism and Media Production
Dr. O’Neill-Jones is professor emeritus of journalism and media production at the Metropolitan State University of Denver. A natural storyteller, she began her career as a newspaper photographer, then moved to broadcast, corporate, and educational media. She was awarded MSU Denver’s first-ever Extraordinary Service Award in 2016. She currently serves as executive director for MSU Denver’s Library of Congress Western Region Teaching with Primary Sources (TPS) program. TPS provides professional development for teachers throughout a sixteen-state region to promote the use of primary sources in instruction. A third-generation Coloradan, Peggy is married with three daughters and is part of a large Irish family scattered around Denver.
As a young child, I looked forward to spending the night with my great-aunt Mary Cronin. Cooking cinnamon rolls was our thing. Using time and patience, we’d create a cinnamon-sugar-butter concoction that blanketed flat dough, which we rolled into a continuous loop of goopy, reddish-brown swirls. As we worked, Mer—that’s what we called her—sometimes mentioned Aunt Ella and Aunt Frances in passing. The two sisters were ephemeral to me at the time. My life began about fifteen years after their lives finished. Without faces and memories, the names mostly vaporized from my head.
Even today, the aroma of baking cinnamon rolls sends me back to Aunt Mary’s kitchen. Maybe the lovely smell and the affection I felt is why I recall the scene so often—and why I’ve spent a lot of time learning more about the women that Mer didn’t want me to forget.