For more than 30 years, Peggy Douglass worked at Hennepin County human services, focusing mainly on housing and emergency services. She helped people experiencing homelessness or those whose lives were turned upside down by fire or a tornado.

Kate Heffernan, administrator in economic supports at Hennepin County, worked with Douglass for years and calculates that Douglass touched thousands of lives, colleagues included. Douglass helped develop the model that Hennepin County now uses to serve families experiencing homelessness.

"She had a huge impact on what is currently the Hennepin County shelter system," Heffernan.

As for colleagues, they all knew the Douglass motto: "Thanks for coming to work!" She said it to everyone, and she meant it, Heffernan said. It was a sign of the humanity she brought to her job.

Douglass died at her south Minneapolis home unexpectedly of a heart attack Sept. 14 while watching her beloved Minnesota Twins. She was 61.

Born on March 10, 1961, in Minneapolis to Ralph and Lorraine Douglass, Margaret "Peg" Douglass was the fourth of five children. Her father had a long career at Northwest Airlines, and her mother took care of the family at their south Minneapolis home near Lake Hiawatha.

Peggy's brother Ralph Douglass Jr. recalled that she loved softball and was a great outfielder with a strong arm. Her grade school team won a city championship.

After graduating from high school, she earned a degree in business administration from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls. She soon settled back in Minneapolis and went to work in social services in Hennepin County.

It was more than a job, Ralph Jr. said.

"I think Peggy took this job as a ministry," he said. "She found her calling."

Heffernan said she was brilliant at standing up an emergency response operation, such as the one they set up in a park after the 2011 tornado tore through north Minneapolis.

She just made work more fun, Heffernan said. She recalled one snowy day when she somehow orchestrated staff to go outside and make a series of snow angels that formed a heart. Someone snapped a picture. She brought dozens of doughnuts from the Baker's Wife pastry shop to work every Friday for years, Heffernan said.

Douglass lived for years in her Minneapolis double bungalow, with her sister Therese Sullivan and her family next door. Douglass played an integral role in the lives of her nieces Kelly and Megan, walking them to school and often walking Kelly's golden retriever, Sullivan said.

Douglass maintained a close network of friends. Each winter, a group went on a getaway together to Indian Shores, Fla., for a week or so of boogie boarding and hot-tubbing.

She also was a longtime volunteer at Every Third Saturday, a Minneapolis nonprofit that works with veterans, where she helped sort donations and run the free supply store, said JessiMcKenna, executive director. The crew all loved hearing her say, "Thanks for coming to work!"

Douglass was a family anchor, hosting family gatherings at her lake cabin near Kimball, Minn., where they would barbecue and get out the pontoon and water ski.

"She was the glue," said Ralph Jr. "She never wanted any recognition."

Douglass is survived by her brother Ralph Douglass Jr. of Plymouth and sister Therese Sullivan of Minneapolis. Services have been held.