Marilyn T. Peterson
October 20, 1930 – August 5, 2021
Marilyn Grace Thomas Peterson, 90, Union City, went to be with the Lord on Thursday, August 5, 2021. She was born in Union City, IN on October 20, 1930 (10/20/30!), to M.A. and Gertrude (Sprunger) Thomas. On June 24, 1956, she married the late Kimberly K. Peterson, and after 65 years of marriage, she survived him by less than three months.
Her parents and her Swiss heritage were particularly important in her life. She learned hard work and determination from M.A., where doing things the right way was the only way. Gertrude instilled in her a love of music, finding both a piano and violin instructor for her during the Great Depression. She also could sing; after one performance she was dubbed by the local newspaper as “Union City’s own Shirley Temple.”
Marilyn was always involved with animals. Her first horse, Trigger, was known for the many tricks she taught her. This love of horses grew into the Double A Royaal Arabians, by which she and her children competed in horse shows across the Midwest. She also had a particular love of poodle dogs, beginning with her first, Fetzi, and 50 years later her beloved Josie.
Marilyn graduated from Union City High School, riding her bike into town each day from the farm. She graduated from DePauw University as a music major and a member of the Pi Beta Phi sorority. She also played basketball at DePauw, with her last game personally outscoring the opponents! Her love of sports, particularly basketball, continued throughout her life.
Her first vocal music teaching job was at Arsenal Tech High School in Indianapolis. It was at Fort Ben (Indianapolis) where Kim and Marilyn met when she brought a high school singing group there to entertain the troops. He asked her to dance, and their courtship began.
After a short time in Milwaukee, they moved to Union City. Rejoining the Wesley United Methodist Church, she became the music director. Many youth in Union City joined her choirs and special performing groups.
She went back to work in 1970 at Ansonia High School (Ohio). Her performing groups, the Varsity Singers, Corporation Unlimited, The Sensations and Apple Chords were the pride of the community. Each school year ended with a performance called “Coda” where Marilyn pounded the piano hard enough for 200 singing and dancing high school students to hear. She particularly enjoyed working with students who had been told by others that they could not sing. Her performing groups were always equally divided among boys and girls, once telling the Corporation Unlimited girls that if they all wanted to be in the group, they needed to recruit more boys to sign up. They did. Mrs. P was not kidding and they knew it.
Her final directing role was with The Wesley Singers. Although based out of her home church, students from around Randolph and Darke Counties joined. She was particularly happy when the Wesley Singers, made up of students from both Union City and Mississinewa Valley (including many players and cheerleaders), circled the court and jointly sang the National Anthem as a sign of unity before the hotly contested basketball game.
Survivors include her children Kathryn Lynn and Thomas William; her grandchildren Tyler Jeffers, Erika Jeffers, Dr. Ashley Bensen (Tyler), Matthew Peterson and Isaac Peterson; and sister Romaigne Adams. She was preceded in death by her parents and husband.