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Alvina Peterson

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Alvina Peterson

Alvina Peterson, wife of the late Dr. John W. Peterson, died peacefully on August 8, 2012, at the age of 95. She was born in Radcliff, Iowa, the eldest daughter of Hannah and John W. Pederson. From her mother she learned the value of humility and a quiet faith, but from her father she got the opposite - a freethinking and outspoken nature. It was a potent mixture, further enhanced by the devotion (and antics) of her five brothers and sisters. In Radcliff and later at the University of Iowa she began a lifetime of learning and love of reading - especially poetry. For graduation, her father gave her a beautifully illustrated copy of The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, which she treasured. From Iowa, she went to Washington, D.C. to work as a secretary in the War Department. There she met Captain John W. Peterson, a young doctor about to be deployed overseas. They were married in Ames, Iowa on February 22, 1944. After the war and a brief stay in Chicago, the Petersons began a life of more than fifty years in Carbondale, Illinois, raising five children. She would say that raising her children was her best education. She also learned a great deal about finances and investing. She found time to serve for several years on the Board of Education, as an advocate for teachers and for the needs of all students. She belonged to the Presbyterian Church in Carbondale, but cared more about moral behavior and avoiding the Seven Deadly Sins than for organized religion. She had many friends in Carbondale, but none more loyal and dear than Estella Bryant and Miriam Klimstra, with whom she never tired of discussing Democratic politics. She was ready to serve in any capacity - stuffing envelopes for the campaign of Sen. Paul Simon or working in the Hospital Auxiliary serving food to the staff and families visiting the sick. Her last years were spent making friends with many of the residents of the Sweetwood facility in Williamstown.

She is survived by brother, Oswald, and sister, Ellen, and by her five children, thirteen grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.

In her later years in Carbondale, she either had a book in her hands, or a thermos of coffee to share with her husband as they hiked or worked on building a cabin or anxiously watched over the survival of young ducklings on the pond at their home. They loved their life together. There is no better memorial than the words in her father's graduation gift:

[And those] we loved, the loveliest and the best

That Time and Fate of all their Vintage prest,

Have drunk their Cup a Round or Two before

And one by one crept silently to Rest.
Published in The Berkshire Eagle on Aug. 13, 2012
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