Stillwater woman killed by garbage truck was delivering cookies to driver

Stillwater police have called it a "tragic accident." An 81-year-old woman was hit and killed by a garbage truck last week.

The woman, identified as 81-year-old Margaret Peterson, left behind a grandson, Josh Pritchett, who is still coming to terms with losing her so suddenly. He said his grandma was healthy and filled to the brim with life and joy up until her death.

"She hated pictures, so there's not many that I have of her," Pritchett said.

Though Peterson didn’t enjoy the spotlight, her face will forever be part of Stillwater's history. A photo of her was featured in a local newspaper during the 1965 flood with the caption "Lady Shoveler." Pritchett said at the time, people in the community were in disbelief that a woman would be helping with the flood mitigation efforts.

For the next nearly 60 years of her life, Peterson continued to embody those traits: lovely, helpful, and headstrong.

"I found her (outside) last week trying to chop a branch off that tree because it was looking a little loose from one of the storms," Pritchett joked.

She was known by everyone on the block where she’s lived for 70 years. Pritchett built a memorial outside their home to honor his grandmother. Stillwater police said it's the same spot where Peterson was hit and killed by a garbage truck on the morning of April 25. Neighbors believe she was trying to deliver cookies to the driver at the time.

"She would, even just to be nice, bake cookies that she couldn't eat because she's a Celiac, and she had all these cookies and just go out and hand them to everybody (like) workers. She'd drive to the bank and pass them out," Pritchett explained.

He moved back to Stillwater from Chicago a year ago thinking he would care for his grandmother during the final years of her life but said it ended up being the other way around. Peterson was his longtime guardian and even at 81 years old, she was his sole confidant. Their bond becoming even stronger after his mom, Peterson’s daughter, passed away in 2015.

"Grandparents always tell you how proud they are, and you always wonder is that just a saying? But she'd always say, ‘You're my pride and joy, Josh,’" Pritchett said.

Peterson started that legacy with her own grandma, whose home she bought. When the house burned down, she rebuilt it in the same spot, and it's where she finished out her final days.

"This has been her home. Roots have gone straight down into the depths of Stillwater," Pritchett said.

He’s holding tight to the photos he does have of his grandmother, mostly selfies he took of them together, especially her favorite photo, which was taken after she took the train to visit him in Chicago. His friends have set up a GoFundMe to help with funeral costs.

Pritchett wants to make sure his grandmother’s roots continue to grow, which he plans to do by staying in her home and building that Stillwater legacy.

"It's going to be the way that I can continue to honor grandma. This was her home. I plan to keep it as nice as I can," he said. 

A spokesperson for Waste Management said the company is "sorry to learn of this unfortunate incident" and cooperating with authorities.