The Official Newspaper of the Diocese of Little Rock

A Catholic you want to know: Peggy Bodeman

St. Mary in Hot Springs parishioner feeds the body and soul in her church community

Published: April 23, 2021   
James Keary
Peggy Bodeman prepares lunch April 6 for a Bible study group in the parish hall kitchen of St. Mary of the Springs Church in Hot Springs.

Why you want to know Peggy Bodeman: She grew up one of 12 children in a family that operated a diner in Iola, Kan., which caused Peggy to learn quickly to prepare a meal. Her parents, Joseph and Helen Brough Audley, taught her not only how to cook but made cooking enjoyable. She said all of her family worked in the diner, which served home cooking for their patrons.

She always enjoyed cooking and when she retired from management of a Hot Springs medical clinic she bought what she called “a dive bar” called the Copper Penny, which is located on Central Avenue in downtown Hot Springs. Bodeman turned the bar into a restaurant that offered Irish food, like shepherd’s pie and stew. She said she thought it would be fun to own a bar and since she loved to cook she made it into a restaurant. After five years, she retired again and sold the restaurant.

But she didn’t stop cooking. Bodeman, who was raised Catholic, volunteered as a kitchen helper and then as the cook and chairman of the bereavement committee at St. Mary Church. She now prepares lunches for at least two organizations a week and meals for parish families after a funeral service. During the past year, she has prepared sack lunches rather than hot dishes because of health concerns surrounding COVID-19. She also cooks sometimes for pastor Father Ravi Rayappa Gudipalli.

Age: 67

Parish: St. Mary of the Springs, Hot Springs

Family: Husband Mike, three children and seven grandchildren

Occupation: Retired medical clinic manager and restaurant owner


In her own words

What feeds you spiritually?

Community. There is nothing better than a good group of friends. I feed many people and I feed Father Ravi a lot. He gets almost giddy about it. That is so rewarding. It is such a blessing when people appreciate what you do. Father Ravi feeds my soul, and I feed his body.

How does your cooking relate to your faith?

I think it is a statement of my faith. It is something that needs to be done. It is my God-given talent that I can share. I think faith is how we live, how we feel inside.

How long have you volunteered?

I began helping three years ago. Last year I took over the bereavement committee. It is very rewarding. I have always found food can heal so much.

How did you start preparing food?

We all worked in my father’s diner. He exposed me to the kitchen. He made cooking fun. It made me a good cook. I have enjoyed cooking all my life.

What are your hobbies?

Cooking, reading, Sudoku, sewing, and grandkids and collecting Mickey Mouse and religious items

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