Throwback Thursday: VC Native Claims Peggy Lee Discovery

Paul Riemerman
Staff Writer

The Valley City Times-Record plans to run a historical photograph each week submitted by our readers.

Beverly Gay Duba of Duba, a Valley City native now living in Saratoga, Calif., told the Times-Record she talked Peggy Lee into singing on KOVC radio for the first time after hearing Lee sing at a Valley City event in 1937.

Lee's granddaughter, Holly Foster Wells of California, also vice president of Lee Associates LLC, said Tuesday it is quite possible Duba did discover her grandmother.
Said Wells, “It was very interesting to read about Beverly Duba’s recollections about my grandmother’s career start in Valley City. I know that the were a lot of people in Wimbledon, Jamestown, Fargo and Valley City who were so helpful in getting my grandmother on the air and on her way.”

Wells asked for copies of the photographs of Lee provided by Duba, saying the family had few photos of Peggy Lee in her early years. “She would have been very young in 1937 – only 17 years old!”

Said Duba, “I was working at the radio station KOVC in Valley City in 1937. I was staff pianist while a senior at the Valley City High School. I played most of the day on Saturdays, since there was live talent, and I accompanied children while they were singing. I also played at the Rudolph Hotel every evening during the dinner hour. The program was called “Musical Menu.” The menu would be read between the musical numbers I played. My payment was a nice dinner.

“I first met Norma Egstrom (Lee's original name) at the annual Pioneer picnic at the Chautauqua Park. I was accompanying some tap dancers, when I heard her off in the distance singing at a different place in the park. She was singing Twilight on the Trail. I went over to her and asked her if she wanted to sing on the radio, and she said that she would like to do so.”

Photos can be of people, events or places in Barnes County from 10, 20, 30 years ago, or even older. Please submit photographs by email to, or drop them by our office at 146 Third Street NE.