Marjorie “Midge” J. Peterson

Marjorie J. Peterson

KNOX — Marjorie Peterson, a hard-working woman with a fondness for things of the past, was giving and helpful to her large family and many friends. She died on Thursday, Dec. 27, 2018. She was 88.

Mrs. Peterson was born at Bellevue Maternity Hospital in Niskayuna to the late Hiram and Anna Durfee on May 10, 1930. She grew up on a dairy farm on Knox Cave Road, said her daughter, Marcia Proper. As a young girl in the Great Depression, she didn’t have a lot, but her life on a farm ensured she never went to bed hungry, said her daughter.

She had a solitary childhood and entertained herself by building a dollhouse out of orange crates she got from the general store in Quaker Street. There, she created a fantasy world from unused bits and pieces of she found at home or on the farm. Her love of miniatures lasted a lifetime.

Her neighbor, Carl O. Peterson, also grew up on a dairy farm four miles away. The two eventually started courting, going to square dances or maybe roller-skating together, said their daughter. Eventually they married, on March 8, 1951, and Mrs. Peterson moved to her husband’s family farm on Bozenkill Road, where they would remain for the rest of their lives. Their union of over 65 years ended only with his death in 2017.

Life on a farm kept both Mrs. Peterson and her husband very busy, said their daughter. They were up at 5 a.m. and done by 9 p.m. every day of the week.

“When you lived on a farm, there was always something to do,” she said. As for herself and the other children: “We were always busy. I don’t think we were ever bored; it wasn’t in our vocabulary,” she said.

But the Petersons always took some time to have fun, said Mrs. Proper. For 20 years, they would go to the Fonda Speedway on Saturday nights in the summer to watch stock car races. In the winter, after the cows were milked for the last time at 9 p.m., they would ride snowmobiles across the fields and forest, maybe getting hotdogs along the way.

The couple stayed on the farm their whole lives, but did travel in their 40s when Mr. Peterson was chairman of the board of the dairy cooperative Agri-Mark. Mrs. Peterson’s favorite place they went to was Hawaii, said her daughter.

“It was so different and tropical,” she said.

Mrs. Peterson also had a passion for antiques, said Mrs. Proper.

“If it was old, to her it was new again,” she said.

She collected Victorian dollhouses and amassed 10 or 12 in total. Her daughter said she enjoyed furnishing them and decorating them. She was a member of the Department 56 Club, where she collected tiny ceramic homes to form a winter village. She also enjoyed crafts. Many of her miniatures were displayed at the Altamont Fair’s Farm House Museum.

“It was like she was always working on something,” said Mrs. Proper.

Mrs. Peterson became the curator for the Farm House Museum in 1963, said her daughter.

“Because she loved antiques and she loved everything about the post,” she said.

Mrs. Peterson kept these same hobbies for most of her life until her vision deteriorated as she grew older. She instead started to read voraciously using a magnifying glass, said her daughter.

After they grew up, Mrs. Peterson’s two sons stayed on the farm. Her other children stayed close by as well, and she was able to see her grandchildren often.

“She was a good grandmother,” said Mrs. Proper, who added that she was also “very blessed” with 21 great-grandchildren.

“Her life was very full,” said her daughter. “And never a dull moment.”

Mrs. Peterson loved people and despised solitude, said her daughter. She kept plenty of friends and was fun-loving and sometimes ditzy.

“She was a blonde,” said her daughter.

A kind and giving woman, Mrs. Peterson “was always there for you,” said Mrs. Proper, who said her mother offered much-needed advice whenever asked. She was also always willing to help the underdog, being the first to help someone in need after a tragedy like a fire, said her daughter.

“She had a heart as big as all-outdoors … ,” she said, adding a family platitude: “My father was the backbone of the family and my mother was the heart.”
 

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Mrs. Peterson is survived by her children, Marcia Proper and her husband, Jeff; Mark Peterson; Keith Peterson and his wife, Karen; and Tammy Peterson; her grandchildren, Rebecca Schweigard and her husband, Edward; Joshua Burtt and his wife, Karie; Annie Burtt and her partner, Frank Santo; Eric Peterson; Nancy Peterson; Justin Peterson and his wife, Maribel; Keith Peterson and his wife, Patricia; Neil Peterson and his wife, Chrissy; Jacob Peterson and his wife, Ericka; and Virginia Soulia and her sister, Doris Drumm.

She is also survived by 21 great-grandchildren and many other loving relatives and friends. Her husband, Carl O. Peterson, died in 2017.

Calling hours will be held on Saturday, Jan. 12, at the Duanesburg Reformed Presbyterian Church, 6512 Western Turnpike (Route 20) in Duanesburg from 1 to 3 p.m. with a service to follow at 3 p.m. Burial will take place at Grove Cemetery at a later date.

Memorial contributions to be made to St. Jude’s Children Research Hospital, 501 St. Jude Place Memphis, TN 38105.

— H. Rose Schneider

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