Mountain Views News     Logo: MVNews     Saturday, June 15, 2013

MVNews this week:  Page B:1





August 3, 1916- June 9, 2013

Born in Bremerton, 
Washington, to Benjamin 
Stinman and Orcelia 
Mable Lanphear. Marjorie 
Stinman Peterson was the 
eldest of three children, 
a sister and brother. 
Her father was in the 
military and in the early 
days of Marjorie’s life, 
they traveled quite a bit. 
However, by the age of 
10, her family settled in 
the Foothill Village of 
Sierra Madre, California.
Here Marjorie lived 
for the rest of her life, 
attending local schools 
and contributing to 
the betterment of 
this community until 
her death just shy of 
her 97th birthday.
Marjorie married her childhood sweetheart, Charlie Peterson in June 
1935. Charlie was literally ‘the boy next door’, and when they married the 
couple moved into his house where she continued to live until her passing.
The couple raised two children during their lives together, a son, Dan 
Peterson and a daughter Muriel McCormick.

During WWII, Marjorie embarked on a project rather serendipitously that 
would shape the rest of her life. According to life long friends, Marjorie was 
asked by several women who went to work during the war if she would care 
for their children. That favor evolved into the development of Mama Pete’s 
Nursery School in 1944, a school that has cared for literally thousands of 
children’s, many of whom still live in Sierra Madre today. Mama Pete, as 
she affectionately became known to the community actively participated 
in the Nursery School until her health began to fail a few months ago.
Mama Pete’s passion for Sierra Madre was evident throughout her life. 
In the book, “Southern California Story, Seeking The Better Life In Sierra 
Madre”, there is a photo of the young Marjorie Peterson. She has been 
recognized for her civic leadership in countless ways. A member of the 
Sierra Madre Woman’s Club, the Sierra Madre Historical Preservation 
Society, A Lifetime Member of the Sierra Madre Civic Club. She was 
chosen the Citizen of the Year in 1982 and in 2011 was bestowed with 
the honor of being named one of the “Treasures of Sierra Madre”. (Partial 

According to her daughter Muriel her greatest accomplishment was the 
organizing of the Sierra Madre Centennial in 1980 which marked the 
100th anniversary of the founding of Sierra Madre by Nathaniel Carter.
Marjorie Peterson was preceded in death by her husband Charlie in 1984 
and is survived by her children, Dan and Muriel, five grandchildren 
(Chuck, Cindy, David, Vickie and Kathy) and 12 great grandchildren.
A Memorial Service celebrating her life will be held on 
Friday, June 21, 2013 at 10:00 am at The Sierra Madre 
Recreation Center, 611 E. Sierra Madre Blvd., Sierra 

 S. Henderson/MVNews



The Sierra Madre 4th of July 
Committee announced this week it will 
honor the memory of Marjorie “Mama 
Pete” Peterson with a “Hometown 
Hero” recognition in the upcoming 
2013 parade and festivities.

The posthumous honor comes as 
the community collectively mourns 
Peterson’s passing this week and the 
Committee is proud to celebrate her 
memory during this time of year that 
she loved so much. In addition to 
successfully operating Mama Pete’s 
Nursery School, she was at the forefront 
of Sierra Madre volunteerism for 70 

“We believe that Mama Pete is the 
exact definition of a hometown hero,” 
said Committee Member Meredith 
Keith. “In her lifetime of service, she 
has guided the children of our city 
into being kind, courteous, intelligent, 
giving and expressive individuals.”

For more information on Sierra 
Madre’s 4th July celebration, contact 
Committee Chair James Annes at, or 
the Community Services Department 
at 626-355-5278.

Photo courtesy


Mama Pete was a long time contributor 
to this town, and the town knew it 
and appreciated it. In 1982, she was 
named Citizen of the Year, and in 2011, 
she was named one of Sierra Madre’s 
Treasures by the Sierra Madre Chamber 
of Commerce. The Sierra Madre 
Woman’s Club made her an Honorary 
Lifetime Member, an honor bestowed 
in recognition of a lifetime of service to 
the Club.


And a lifetime of service she gave. 
Among other things she did for the 
Woman’s Club, she sat at the SMWC 
staffed information booth on the west 
end of town for many years, including 
through a torrential downpour in 
2011 and 2012, and she cut oranges for 
the runners in the Mount Wilson Trail 
Race for many years, also a Woman’s 
Club activity. But that doesn’t begin to 
list her contributions to the Club, or to 
the community.


In 2011, the local club nominated her 
for the Jenny June Award, given annually 
by the General Federation of Woman’s 
Clubs, a national award. She didn’t 
win, however I mention it because as 
Executive Director of the Chamber at 
the time, I was asked to write a letter 
of recommendation for submittal to 
the GFWC judges. I was given some 
biographical information, and was 
quite overwhelmed at her resume. The 
list was far too long to include everything 
in my letter, but here’s an excerpt: 
“In preparing to write this letter, I reviewed 
an article that discussed Mama 
Pete’s contributions to the community 
that earned her the Citizen of the Year 
award in 1982. I was aware that, in addition 
to her membership in the Woman’s 
Club, she had been one of the charter 
members of the Civic Club when it 
was formed back in the 1940s (1944). 
But the article included a list of numerous 
other contributions she has made 
to the community. PTA president in 
1945 – 46. Girl Scout leader from 1947 
– 1974. Member of the Volunteer Firemen’s 
Wives’ group from 1961 to 1977. 
President of the Historical Preservation 
Society from 1976 – 1978, continuing 
as a Board member until 1983. Chairwoman 
of the Sierra 
Madre Centennial 
Committee. And as 
long as the above list 
is, the amazing thing 
is that this is just an 
abbreviated list of her 


I mentioned that she 
was a charter member 
of the Sierra Madre 
Civic Club in 1944. 
That was a big year 
for her. It was also 
the year she started 
Mama Pete’s Nursery 
School, which is still 
in operation at her 
residence on Suffolk 
Ave. to this day. According 
to Michelle 
Zack’s history of Sierra 
Madre “Seeking 
the Better Life in Sierra 
Madre,” Mama Pete 
had served as nanny 
to the Ward (E. Waldo 
Ward) children, 
and used that experience 
to begin her own 
school. Here’s another 
excerpt from my 
letter to the GFWC’s 
judges: “…students of 
Mama Pete’s have, for 
generations, looked 
up to her as THEIR Mama, and have 
brought their children to the school, 
and their children have brought their 
children. This has been going on for 
generations, and the crowds cheering 
for Mama Pete’s annual float in the 4th 
of July parade is evidence of the respect 
and esteem with which the members of 
this community hold her.”

One of the groups people can join on 
Facebook is called “You know you’re 
a Sierra Madre kid when…”. On this 
page, people comment with things that 
are quintessential Sierra Madre, appropriate 
to the page name. I noticed once 
looking at the page that someone had 
posted the comment “You know you’re 
a Sierra Madre kid when: you went to 
Mama Pete’s Nursery School.” Several 
comments were posted in response, 
but the one that struck me was one by 
a gentleman who said “I went to Mama 
Pete’s for about a year in 1960.” Here’s 
a man recalling his experience as a preschooler, 
more than fifty years ago!! 
And she had already been at it for more 
than fifteen years when he attended. I 
don’t think many people in this world, 
if anyone else, can claim to have been 
caring for an extended family as large 
as hers is, for as long as Mama Pete.


When the announcement of Mama 
Pete’s passing was posted on Facebook, 
folks started to comment. One 
person, Anthony Soldano, made the 
comment that “Sierra Madre should 
name a street after her.” I think it’s an 
excellent idea. Suffolk Ave. should be 
renamed “Mama Pete Street.” I’m told 
by a staffer at Public Works that it’s a 
fairly simple process. If City Council 
is behind it, maybe we can get it done. 
Anybody else think it’s a good idea? 

Harry "Elvis" Shahoian helped Mama Pete celebrate 
her 95th birthday at his Concert in the Park 
in 2011 News Net file photo

Photo by Amy Putnam at the Book Signing for the Sierra Madre 

Historical Preservation Society. Then President Dane Lenton holds an 
enlargement of a photo of Mama Pete when she cared for the Ward 

Left is a photo of Mama Pete from 
the Marjorie S. Peterson Collection

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