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Kaethe Peters

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Kaethe Peters Obituary
Kaethe Peters, 98, of Cambridge, Massachusetts died on October 21, 2012. Mother of Jacob Matthew of Cambridge and Clara Simon of Delmar, New York, Katya is also survived by Claras 13 children and 15 grandchildren. Though only 411 tall, Katya was a tower of strength, full of love, wisdom, a general curiosity, love of the arts, and a zest for life. She once wrote, I found from my experiences that it is essential to enrich ones own personality to capacity so that one can give freely to others. Possessing a beautiful smile and utilizing her compassion for others, Katya worked for 80 years to improve her community and the lives of other people. Katya was born in Germany and left for England two days before the start of World War II, during which she lost both her parents and younger sister in the concentration camps. Shortly after arriving in England, she was arrested for being an enemy alien and detained on the Isle of Man with 4,000 other Germans, Jews and Nazis alike. Upon her release six months later, Katya began studying to be a social worker at the University of London while working full time. In 1949 she traveled to Israel to work with Arab families to improve their health, nutrition, and housing. Returning to England one year later, she worked with groups of Germans, including former Nazi officers, introducing them to the concept of Democracy. Katya then earned a Fulbright Scholarship to pursue her Masters degree at Columbia University, arriving in New York with $5 in her pocket. After marrying Stefan Peters, a mathematician, and earning her Masters degree, she moved to Cambridge in 1953. Katyas 60-year career in the Boston/Cambridge area was dedicated to the support of mentally challenged children and their families. For many years she worked at Boston Childrens Service, and was later the Director of Social Services in the Shriver Center at the Water E. Fernald State School. In 1981 Katya founded Integrated Foster Care, an agency that focused on placing developmentally challenged children in foster homes and created programs to address their medical, educational, and recreational needs. At the age of 83, Katya created a program in a special needs class in the Cambridge Rindge and Latin High School based on the Orff method of music therapy, and she went faithfully to oversee the program up to the time of her death. Katya also worked tirelessly to develop educational and community programs in Cambridge. She was a founding member of both the Community Schools Program and the Enrichment Program, the Commissioner of the Cambridge Human Rights Commission for two years, a member of the Cambridge Community Foundation, and once an active member of the PTA. She received the Jeanne V. Burton Award for Community Service in 2001. In addition, she received numerous other forms of recognition from the City of Cambridge, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and the American Association of Mental Retardation for her work over the years. Katya was happiest sitting on her sunny porch in Vinalhaven, Maine with her husband, or when frequenting one of her favorite restaurants, enjoying good food, drink, and conversation. She was a most unique and remarkable woman, whose company and love will be missed by many. Graveside services were held on October 22nd at Temple Emeth Memorial Park, West Roxbury. Donations in her memory can be sent to: Orff Music Project, C/O Bob Hurlbut, Cambridge Community Foundation, 99 Bishop Allen Drive, Cambridge, MA 02139.

Published in The Cambridge Chronicle from Nov. 1 to Nov. 7, 2012
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