Serving Challis and Custer County, Idaho Since 1881. The Challis Messenger is published every Thursday.

Ethel M. Peck

Ethel Marie Malsy Peck, 74, passed away December 15, 2013 at her home in Challis.

She was born May 21, 1939, to Francis B. and Helen Clifford Malsy in Engelwood, New Jersey.

Ethel was very active in high school and while in her sophomore year became deeply interested in the art of discussion and debate. As a member of the National Forensic League (speech and debate), she learned to research topics of public interest and obtained the Degree of Honor and Excellence, also serving as the League's secretary.

She served as president of her high school's National Honor Society and president of the Junior Red Cross. Her interest in politics was sparked as a Girls State delegate, and she became a representative and later a senator in her State's Youth Congress.

Ethel was an accomplished clarinet player and enjoyed her time in the high school band where she also served as Treasurer. After graduating from Hasbrouck Heights High School she studied chemistry at Douglas College/Rutgers University from 1957-58.

A life-long Republican, she served on the Bergen County voting district committee while living in New Jersey. Politics was always a prime topic of conversation and a lively discussion was inevitable.

Ethel worked in the NYC textile business, on Broadway and 39th Street, where she met the love of her life, Joseph M. Peck. They were married August 28, 1963, and in addition to her new husband, her family now included Joe’s children, Gary and Barbara. Daughters Donna and Debbie were born in Port Washington, New York, where the family resided until 1967.

Dad wanted to get out of the city rat race, and loved big game hunting. So after some research, he learned that Alaska had the best numbers for a hunting business, with Idaho ranking second. Mom said she was not moving to Alaska, so the family relocated to Idaho, where Mom and Dad had purchased a wilderness outfitting business, which they called Peck's Ponderosa. The family lived briefly in Challis, then moved to Salmon for a few years, where Joe Junior was born. The family then purchased a ranch near Challis, where son Mike was born at the family home.

Now an Idaho resident, Mom raised her family and provided logistical support for Joe's hunting business. Despite her city upbringing, and the subsequent culture shock, she worked hard on the ranch, irrigating fields, driving tractors, feeding animals and refereeing her rambunctious family. She learned to take grocery orders by radio, haul hay pellets and grain to the airport and manage the correspondence for Dad's clients. She planted an immense garden, made wonderful gooseberry jam, bottle-fed any orphaned lambs or calves, fed the chickens, gathered the eggs, but she never was fond of butchering chickens.

Mom instilled a love of reading in her children, spending many hours reading to them in her lap. Family dinners were important, and she enjoyed a good game of pinochle and dancing with Dad. She had a lovely voice, and sang soprano in the church choir for many years. Mom took great pride in her family and enjoyed hearing of their accomplishments.

Mom’s parents would send holiday outfits for the family, so photos were often taken of the children all dressed up in their Easter Sunday outfits. Grandma Malsy was worried we could not get the latest styles out here in the "wilderness," so her clothing gifts were intended to keep us up to date in the fashion world. Most outfits were a success, but there was the occasional "I'm not wearing that" battle.

As her family grew up, Mom started working again. She taught herself shorthand from a book, took the civil service test and started working for the Challis National Forest. She also worked for Custer County Sheriff's Office, and The Challis Messenger, prior to being elected Custer County Clerk in 1982. She took office in January 1983 and served as Clerk of the District Court, Ex-officio Auditor and Recorder until her retirement in January 2007. During her 24 years as clerk, she served as President of the Commissioners and Clerks, chairman of the Justice and Public Safety Committee and she received the Mills Adler Award for her accomplishments.

Mom was a member of the local Toastmistress organization and the Business and Professional Women of America. Mom served many years as an EMT, reaching the Advanced level and taught courses to new EMTs. She served over 12 years as the Idaho Association of Counties representative on the state’s Emergency Medical Service Advisory Committee. Serving as an advanced EMT was one of her greatest pleasures and she loved serving her community.

She was preceded in death by her parents, Frank and Helen Malsy, and by her husband of 44 years, Joseph Peck. She is survived by her brother, Frank C. Malsy; her sister, Helen Palladino; her children, Gary (Sharon) Peck, Barbara Andrews, Donna (Terry) Leuzinger, Debbie (Scott) Carlson, Joe (Lorena) Peck Jr., and Mike Peck; 12 grandchildren; and 5 great-grandchildren.

Grandchildren are Jesse (Raquel) Peck, Ryan (Alex) Peck, Aimee (Jon) Taggart, Cody (Trapper) Sweet, Alicia (Justus) Whitworth, Chase Andrews, Jordan and Jared Leuzinger, Kaylen and Lindsey Carlson, Alaiza del Andre and Jasmine Peck.

Great-grandchildren are Lillian, Gabrielle and Tyler Sweet; and Ethan and Julia Whitworth.

A memorial service will be held Saturday, January 4, 2014 at 1 p.m. at the Challis Community Church with Inurnment in the Challis Cemetery. Arrangements by Jones & Casey Funeral Home of Challis. Memorial donations may be given to the Challis Area EMTs.

Comment on this story
The Challis Phone Book

The Local Phone Book


Use our online order form to start your subscription today!

Contact Congress
The Challis Messenger • P.O. Box 405 • Challis, Idaho 83226
Telephone 208.879.4445 • Fax 208.879.5276 • E-mail:

Copyright © 2001-2014 Post Company. All rights reserved.