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Mary McCord Peterman

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Mary McCord Peterman Obituary
Mary McCord Peterman

She loved to read, but now the book has closed on the life of Mary McCord Peterman.

Mary died Friday, April 4, 2014, at Attic Angel Place in Madison. She finished her 86 years the way she loved living it--with her children gathered together sharing her last days in tears, talk, laughter, and love.

Mary's story begins in the small town of Sparta, Wisconsin on April 27, 1927. Thelma Fanning and James Cogswell McCord named their only child Mary Louise and moved her to the "All-America" city of La Crosse to grow up. She made her mark there, once selling the most Girl Scout cookies in town by calling everyone in the phone book. Mary attended Aquinas High School where she was a reporter for the school newspaper. As a senior, she caught the attention of the LaCrosse Tribune sports editor who challenged her to a week's worth of football predictions in the local paper. Mary held her own.

As a teen, Mary loved her department store sales jobs and had her sights set on school in New York City. She landed at Barat College in Lake Forest, Illinois instead. Two years and "too much fun" later, Mary transferred to the University of Wisconsin-Madison. There she pledged Delta Gamma, had more fun, and graduated as a History major with an English minor. Mary's single days were numbered though once she met frat friend Roger Peterman. She was wooed and won in June of 1952 when she married her handsome pharmacist and embarked on their five city (Madison, Indianapolis, Mondovi, Eau Claire, Wausau), five children adventure.

While her husband hit the road as a pharmaceutical salesman, Mary found herself often single parenting. She was the kind of mother who made growing up fun. No holiday went uncelebrated. Every child's birthday was special--all five of them, every year. Road trips were a blur of prayers, songs, games and too much stuff. Even bath night became an event when the splashing mingled with the sounds of Mary pounding out old standards on the piano keys. She never missed a game, recital, opening night or competition. She volunteered everywhere for everything.

A devoted wife and mother, Mary followed the women in her family who expanded their horizons beyond the home. Her love of books directed her path. Mary introduced her children and their classmates to the classics as a leader and area coordinator in the Eau Claire Junior Great Books program. She established the library at their elementary school, Immaculate Conception, and was its director for two years. Those volunteer efforts inspired Mary to return to school at UW-Stevens Point when the family moved to Wausau. Many a night found her studying diligently at a card table, while life with five noisy children went on outside her closed bedroom door. That not so small feat paid off in a second degree and a career that brought her great satisfaction--17 years as an elementary librarian in the Wausau Public Schools and thousands of youngsters who profited from Mary's passion for reading.

In retirement, Mary and Roger (now deceased) snowbirded in Arizona. They got that trip to Europe they always wanted. They cruised. They rejoiced in the arrival of all nine grandchildren. Nothing made Mary happier (and more tired!) than welcoming the clan home for Christmas or convening with the whole group at their beloved Polly Falls. Family always topped her list of favorite things to do. Sports ran a close second. She cheered for her alma mater Badgers, stuck by the Green Bay Packers through thick and thin, and glued her ear to her transistor radio to catch her Brewers at every opportunity.

Mary loved lists. She was especially proud of this one. In Eau Claire: Immaculate Conception Choir and PTA--UW Alumni Club Secretary, Girl Scout leader (12 years). In Wausau: St. Matthew Parish PTA, Church Choir, Church Council, Ladies Society--member of Elks Lodge #248, Wausau Club, Marathon County Historical Society, Wisconsin Historical Society, Wausau Women's Club, Marathon County Republican Women, Daughters of the American Revolution, Friends of Marathon County Public Library, Aspirus Hospital Volunteers, Wisconsin Alumni Association, and the Marathon County Retired Educators' Association.

Mary's legacy is a close-knit group of siblings and offspring who carry on the McCord/Peterman tradition of food, fun, and song: Daughters Julie K. Peterman, Susan (Wolfgang) Calnin, Pat (Tom Joles) Peterman, Margaret (Bill Peters) Peterman and son Jim (Lynn) Peterman. Grandchildren include: Melissa (Calnin) Knieriem, Nicholas and Brennan Calnin, Ellie, Max and Betsy Joles, Julia Akashio, Mitchel and Mason Peterman and great grandchildren Lyla, Sydney and Miley Knieriem.

Services are Friday, June 20, 2014 at St Matthew Catholic Church in Wausau, with visitation from 9:00-11:00am, followed immediately by the memorial mass.

Memorial donations can be directed to family members or Rib Mountain School Library c/o Brainard Funeral Home, 522 Adams Street, Wausau, Wisconsin 54403.

Condolences may be given at

Mary, Mac, Mom, Gram, even though the book has closed, your story lives on. You are in us. There will be no "The End."

Published in the Wausau Daily Herald from Apr. 27 to Apr. 29, 2014
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