Patricia Peterson Danielson
Indiana philanthropist and national leader in the Delta Gamma fraternity, died Monday at her home in New Castle after a short illness. She was 90.
Danielson said she devoted her life to "giving back," partnering with her husband, Donald C. Danielson, whom she married on April 12, 1947. Danny Danielson survives and is vice chairman of City Securities, former chairman of the Indiana University Board of Trustees and former president of Modernfold.
For Patty Danielson, giving back started at home, in New Castle. In 1985, working from her kitchen counter, she became involved in growing the assets of what is now the Henry County Community Foundation. To Danielson, the foundation's growth was essential to preparing to meet unforeseen needs in the community.
She served as a board member and chair of development of the foundation from its launch until 2006, overseeing growth of millions of dollars in assets, much of which resulted from the relationship she developed with Lilly Endowment. Three of those years, she served as president of the board. With her help, the foundation's investment assisted in the development of the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame, the IU East satellite campus in New Castle and the new Henry County YMCA.
The New Castle Chamber of Commerce recognized her service by naming her the city's Citizen of the Year in 1991. In 2012, she and her husband jointly received the Foundation's Judy Melton Award for their commitment to their community.
Her investment in Henry County accompanied a lifetime of service to the Delta Gamma women's fraternity. She joined the fraternity's Theta Chapter as a college student at Indiana University, where she earned a bachelor's degree in mathematics in 1945 before pursuing a graduate fellowship at Columbia University.
Later, she became a national officer in the Delta Gamma fraternity, serving in positions that included vice president of membership and chair of the nominating committee. She oversaw the establishment of new Delta Gamma chapters at five universities and helped lead several giving campaigns. She was also the fraternity's delegate to the National Panhellenic Conference for two years.
A family motto, "Be your own self, at your very best, all of the time," inspired Danielson and the national Delta Gamma award that bears her name. In 1986, Danny Danielson established the Patricia Peterson Danielson Award in his wife's honor. The "PPD" is given annually to every Delta Gamma chapter that meets a set of national standards of excellence. Earning it is one of the requirements for the fraternity's annual Outstanding Chapter award.
For her national service, Danielson received Delta Gamma's Cable Award, the Order of the Golden Anchor and the Anchor Award, the fraternity's highest award for service. In 2000, she was named the outstanding philanthropist among all Greek fraternity foundations. The Delta Gamma Foundation Board of Trustees' Honorary Fellowship was given in her name in 2006-2007. And her home chapter, Theta Chapter at IU, gives a Collegiate Leadership Award in her honor.
Her Delta Gamma involvement built on the legacy left by her parents, J. Dwight and Mary Frisinger Peterson, of Indianapolis. As a young girl, Danielson would attend Delta Gamma alumnae meetings with her mother, dolls in tow. Her father, who founded City Securities, was international president of the Sigma Chi fraternity, also inspiring a national award in his name for significant Sigma Chi chapters.
Danielson's commitment to her university persisted through generous giving to everything from scholarship, athletics and the arts to capital campaigns. IU honored her devotion in 1998 with its Thomas Hart Benton Medal and in 2002 gave her its Distinguished Alumni Service award. She and her husband also received the Chancellor's Medallion for distinguished service to IU East, and the university's New Castle facility was named in their honor.
Danielson's legacy of giving and faith lives on in her three daughters, along with their husbands: Mary Johnson (Stan) of Quincy, Mass., Susie Anderson (Duane) of Indianapolis; and Amy Thompson (Ron) of Kokomo, Ind. All three followed their mother as Delta Gammas at IU.
Eight grandchildren also survive, along with their spouses. When they were young, Danielson let her grandchildren style her usually perfectly coiffed hair and took them on special field trips around Indiana. She was "Go-Ma" to 13 great-grandchildren.
She also is survived by her siblings, Sally Ravensberg of St. Louis and City Securities Chairman John D. Peterson (Nancy).
The family will receive callers from 2 to 8 p.m. Monday at Sproles Family Funeral Home , 2400 South Memorial Drive, New Castle. (http://www.sprolesfamilycares.com)
A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. Tuesday at First Presbyterian Church, 1202 Church St., New Castle, where Danielson was an elder and Sunday school teacher.
Donations in her memory may be offered to the Henry County Community Foundation, P.O. Box 6006, New Castle, IN 47362; the Indiana University Foundation, P.O. Box 6460, Indianapolis, IN 46206-6460; or the Delta Gamma Foundation, 3250 Riverside Drive, P.O. Box 21397, Columbus, OH 43221.