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Life Story / Obituary
Eleanor Marie Peterson, of Cadillac, passed away peacefully in the company of family on February 25, 2015 at Munson Hospice House.
Eleanor was born in Chelsea, Michigan, on January 8, 1927, to Walter and Elizabeth Harper. From the beginning she was a precocious woman with many talents and interests. Being part of a musically inclined family, she sang in the school choir, played the drums, and became an accomplished violinist and pianist. She was vivacious and athletic as well, and played basketball and baseball as a student. For two summers during World War II, Eleanor worked at her father's Pontiac garage in Chelsea, pumping gas and grinding valves.
Eleanor followed in her mother's footsteps and pursued a teaching degree in mathematics at Albion College, where she was a member of the Alpha XI Delta Sorority. During her first semester at Albion, Eleanor met her future husband, William Peterson, of Cadillac. Eleanor and Bill fell deeply in love and married on June 21, 1947. They happily enjoyed the next forty-six years together. Eleanor finished her final year of college at Denison University in Ohio, where Bill taught economics courses. They then returned to Ann Arbor so that Bill could pursue a law degree. Eleanor taught the seventh grade at Willow Run Junior High School during this time period. When Bill's schooling was completed, they moved to Kansas City, Missouri and resided there for three years before deciding to return to Cadillac. There, they built their dream house at the end of Stimson Street. Bill started a private law practice and in 1960, he was elected as a circuit judge, a position which he held with distinction until he retired in 1990.
In 1959, Eleanor received a phone call from the school superintendent asking her if she would fill a sudden vacancy and teach mathematics at the high school. With some trepidation because her son David and daughter Susan were still young, she joined the faculty and remained a beloved member of the staff for the next thirty-three years. She was honored by her students and peers with a teacher of the year award. Eleanor had a twinkle in her eye and a wonderful sense of humor that was tested by her students one year when they hoisted her Volkswagen Beetle onto cinder blocks in the school parking lot and dangled funny signs in front of her classroom window from the floor above. Eleanor loved her students and took these shenanigans in stride. She was always delighted when, as recently as three weeks ago, former students would approach or write to her to tell her that she had made a positive difference in their lives. She was particularly pleased to know that she inspired several of her students to become math teachers.
Eleanor and Bill also loved to travel. Until his untimely death in 1993, they made sixteen trips to Europe and Scandinavia, and visited forty-eight states, establishing long-lasting international friendships along the way. In 1980, they traveled by invitation to Sweden, where Bill received the King's Gold Commemorative Medal from the Swedish government. Eleanor imparted her love of travel and adventure to her children and grandchildren, whom she adored. She entertained her grandchildren with "cookie time", tea parties, writing poetry, croquet, and, of course, the Hokey Pokey dance.
Eleanor was very active in Cadillac-area organizations. She was a member of the Cadillac Area Scandinavian Society, the Philharmonic Club, the AAUW, the Alpha Delta Kappa women educators sorority, and the Cadillac Mercy Hospital Auxiliary. Eleanor served as a Trustee of the Cadillac Area Community Foundation and she was a member of the Board of Directors of the Cadillac Area Symphony Orchestra. Eleanor and Bill were long-time members of a local bowling league and engaged in very lively rounds of ping pong in their basement. They never missed an opportunity to dance together, cheek to cheek, to the music of the big bands.
Eleanor dearly loved the numerous long-lived pets that were part of her household, most recently her cats Boris and Natasha (Lizzy). Lizzy accompanied Eleanor to Curry House in Cadillac, where Eleanor resided for the past three and a half years due to the onset of Parkinson's Disease. Eleanor also enjoyed feeding and watching the many birds that visited her yard. Shortly after her passing, a brilliant red cardinal and two majestic pileated woodpeckers appeared at the birdfeeders outside of Eleanor's room at Munson Hospice House. Although we will dearly miss her, we can smile knowing that Eleanor is again dancing with her beloved Bill.
Eleanor is survived by her two children, David (Judy) Peterson of Cadillac, and Susan (Philip) Rodgers of Traverse City; her sister Margaret Collins; and grandchildren William Peterson, Thomas Peterson, Philip (Manasi) Rodgers, Emma (Brent) Rodgers, Hannah Rodgers, and Julia Rodgers.
In accordance with Eleanor's wishes, cremation has taken place. A memorial service will be held at a future date in the spring to be announced. In lieu of flowers, tributes may be made with our gratitude to the Cadillac Area Community Foundation, Munson Hospice, local humane societies or organizations benefitting all creatures great and small, or the charity of one's choice.
Eleanor's family would like to thank the exceptional staff at Curry House for their loving care, the B-2 nursing staff at Munson Medical Center, and the team at Munson Hospice who tenderly cared for Eleanor in her final days.
Please visit www.lifestorynet.com to sign the guest book and share a message with her family.
The family chose Life Story Funeral Home, Traverse City.