Delaware State Police Museum curator energized by job

Delaware State Police Museum Executive Director Peggy L. Anderson speaks to Kent County Tourism members recently inside the museum off U.S. 13 in Dover. Behind her are photos of past state police chiefs. (Delaware State News/Craig Anderson)

DOVER — Grasping the front door key (or perhaps entering the keypad code), she cherishes arriving to work each morning.

Recently appointed Delaware State Police Museum and Educational Center Executive Director Peggy L. Anderson accepts the challenges and anticipates the more than 1,000 visitors, plus school and tour groups, set to arrive at the facility each year.

“It’s very overwhelming but rewarding,” Mrs. Anderson said. “I keep thinking one of these days my vacation will end and I’ll someday return to my previous office. But this is my office now.”

Nearing the end of a 31-year career as a state licensing specialist last year, her husband by chance noticed a posted job opening for the museum’s curator.

“I didn’t think about it much at first, but thought about the opportunity more and decided to at least give it a try,” she said.

Now-former office cohorts had trepidations about the fit.

“A lot of my previous co-workers were very concerned that I was not going to stay busy enough,” Mrs. Anderson said.

“I like to stay busy. I don’t see where I’ll never be busy. We have people coming in regularly and I’m always learning something new about the division.”

A wave of applications arrived, and Mrs. Anderson made the cut over six other finalists.

Ms. Anderson stands among the exhibits in the museum. She took over as executive director in October. (Delaware State News/Marc Clery)

“We were very concerned about replacing (Kevin McDerby) because he did a good job and was a true professional (for 5 1/2 years),” Museum Board Vice President John Miller said. “We were apprehensive about being able to get a good group of candidates, which we did.

“It has worked out as well as we thought, perhaps better.”

After three days of shadowing former executive director Mr. McDerby, Mrs. Anderson assumed full control on Oct. 18 or “the first time I was here by myself.”

‘Honored and privileged’

Now, “I feel very honored and privileged to be in this position,” she said.

“I walk in here in awe every day as this is my baby and I’m responsible for taking care of it.”

The move to the museum at 1425 N. Dupont Highway (northbound side of U.S. 13) traveled in slow motion for three decades.

While Mrs. Anderson joined the museum board of directors around 2010, there was no thought until recently of heading that way. Since 1994, she served on the Association of Retired Delaware State Police Troopers committee for the annual fundraising golf tournament as well.

“I dearly loved what I did and everyone became family to me,” Mrs. Anderson said. “While hearing the stories of retired and active troopers from back in the day I became more drawn to the history of it all.

“Getting to meet family members of prior officers and listening to the old stories that are retold is one of my favorite parts of being here now.”

Delaware State Police Museum and Educational Center Executive Director Peggy L. Anderson previously spent 31 years as a licensing specialist for the state of Delaware. (Delaware State News/Marc Clery)

After growing up as the third family generation of a Smyrna area farm near James T. Vaughn Correctional Center, Mrs. Anderson finalized two degrees from West Virginia schools in 1982 – Bachelor of Science in Equestrian Studies from Salem College and Riding Master III from Meredith Manor.

Following the graduations, Mrs. Anderson began training and grooming horses in Texas and throughout most if not all tracks in the Mid-Atlantic area.

“At the time I was young and though you can make a living in the horse industry, I was going to want to maybe retire some day so I looked for opportunities in state government,” Mrs. Anderson said.

Visitors to the museum have the opportunity to learn about law enforcement methods, substance abuse prevention, highway safety efforts, and a variety of other topics from specially trained troopers and volunteers assigned to the center.

Patrol cars and motorcycles of the past are on display, and guests can sit at an actual 911 command and control console.

Also included is a complete memorial dedicated to those troopers who have died in the line of duty.

Staff writer Craig Anderson can be reached at 741-8296


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