Betty Catherine Peterson, 97, Pittsburg, KS, died on September 19, 2020. Betty was born May 21, 1923 in Pittsburg to Ernest and Frances Harpole Peterson. She always described her childhood as secure and happy, and her memories included many fun times playing with her younger brother, Warren. Following her graduation from high school in Pittsburg, the family moved to Princeton, IL. Betty attended college in DeKalb, IL, studying to be a teacher. There she met Charles Edward Peterson (Chuck), who later would become her husband.
Chuck served in the U.S. Army Air Corps during World War II and was gone for three years. Betty graduated from college and then taught for one year in Dearborn, MI. When Chuck returned, he and Betty were married on April 28, 1946. A tight post-war housing market caused them to move to Pittsburg, where her parents again lived. Chuck finished college at Pittsburg State.
Betty and Chuck were married 69 years before he died in 2015. Betty and Chuck’s loving union produced five children, with 10 grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren.
Betty’s vocation was raising a family, and she did a beautiful job of it. Sometimes, money was tight but no one ever went without what they needed. Betty liked to sew and made many of her children’s clothes, and she put up tons of vegetables from Chuck’s prolific garden. She was a first-rate cook. All of her children grew up valuing education and have post-high school degrees. Betty loved to read, and “Grandmother’s Lending Library” was known throughout the family. If you needed a good book, Betty had it. One granddaughter so emulated her grandmother in loving books that she became a librarian.
That is only one example of how Betty’s influence transcended multiple generations of family. She was one of those fortunate grandparents who was appreciated and sought out by young and old for her observations on life in the present, rather than only the past. Betty was devoted to all of her children and grandchildren equally. She treated her children’s spouses as if they were her own children. Her greatest joy was seeing how well her extended family got along with each other.
Her children remember how she welcomed their friends when they were growing up. They would bring someone home to play or to study and there always was room for one more at dinner. Sometimes the Peterson house was a temporary place of refuge if things weren’t going well at a friend’s home.
Betty read the Pittsburg and Kansas City newspapers daily, and said they kept her “in the world.” She was interested in all politics, and she was a consistent voter. Her causes included the League of Women Voters. She was the first woman elder at the Pittsburg First Christian Church Disciples of Christ. She was active in many facets of church life, including in state and district leadership positions. She taught Sunday School (preschool to adult) for more than 50 years. She helped found the Mother to Mother Ministry. She and Chuck were big boosters of the church’s community garden. With Betty’s blessing, the church started a courtyard with a wedding trellis with money from Chuck’s memorial fund.
Survivors include children and spouses Janice Stevens (John), Windsor, CT; Ed Peterson (Laura Scott), Fairway, KS; Carol Peterson (John Vogt), Kansas City, MO; Leah Kasten (Roger), Wichita, KS and Jerry Peterson (Debbie), Owasso, OK., and grandchildren Jeff, Nathan, Caitlin, Scott, Alex, Joel, Jake, Travis, Krista and Briana, and great-grandchildren Parker, Brilynn, Gavin, Kaleigh, Oliver, Elliott and Sailor. In addition to her husband, she was predeceased by her brother, Warren, and a great-grandson, Sawyer.
The family wishes to thank Harry Hynes Memorial Hospice, Carrington Place and especially Amber Brand for the loving care they gave Betty.
A casual, socially-distanced memorial service is planned for 10 a.m. Friday, Sept. 25 in the garden sanctuary behind First Christian Church, Pittsburg. If possible, please bring your own chair. A video of the service will be available by 11:15 a.m. Friday on the church’s Facebook page: First Christian Church, Pittsburg, KS. Inurnment will be later next to Chuck in Highland Park Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to the First Christian Church Memorial Fund at 705 Centennial Dr., Pittsburg, KS 66762. Friends may also leave condolences online at www.brennermortuary.com. Arrangements are under the direction of the Brenner Mortuary, Pittsburg, KS.
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