Mary Peterson

Obituary of Mary Whitney Peterson

Peterson, Mary Whitney, age 99, passed peacefully, and went to be with the Lord, on Saturday, Dec

19, 2020. Currently of Tualatin, OR, and living with daughter Sigrid, Mary was born & raised in Calistoga. A 3rd generation Californian and 3rd generation Calistogan, she was born Mary Irma Whitney on  January 16, 1921, in a little brown house on Lincoln Avenue, and lived from age 8 through High School,  on a ranch in Knights Valley, outside Calistoga.


Mary was 8 years old when the Great Depression started, and it was simple surroundings and hard work

that probably led to her success as a wife & mother who lived to be just 3 weeks shy of her 100th

birthday. In conveying her “Life Story” to granddaughter Whitney, some 20 years ago, she spoke fondly

of working on the ranch with cousins, swimming in the creek on hot days, and time spent as a “Calistoga

Wildcat,” where she played sports and the French Horn in the school marching band.


Mary was preceded in death by: parents George Bernard Whitney & Irma Lilly (Brown) Whitney {who,

following the death of her first husband, married Leonard Howard}; brothers George Bernard Whitney II

and William Jordan Whitney {who together owned & operated Whitney Brothers Calistoga Hardware},

and Leonard Carson Howard. Husband Lawrence Monrad Peterson, preceded her in death by 42 years.

As Lawrence was the love of her life, Mary never remarried, but shortly after his passing, returned to



At the time of their meeting, during WWII, Lawrence & Mary both worked at Mare Island Naval

Shipyard. He was an Electrical Engineer/Naval Officer in charge of the Electrical Shop that

repaired/replaced damaged electronic equipment on returning Naval Vessels. Mary worked in the

Administrative office of the shop, and was also a volunteer in the “Airplane Watch” program, on look-

out for incoming enemy aircraft. They married in 1947, and are now survived by daughter Sigrid Staton

and sons Grant (Carolyn) Peterson and Erik (Karen) Peterson. Mary is also survived by grandchildren

Jake (Tracie), Justin (Amy), Whitney (Matt), Amanda (Dave), Jordan, Adam and Tyler, who presented her

with 9 great grandchildren, ranging in age from 2 to 8 years.


Mary was active for years in the American Fuchsia Society, Native Daughters of the Golden West (60+

years), Sharpsteen Museum, and the Garden Club of Calistoga. She enjoyed growing all plants, but took

greatest delight in her yard of over 200 hanging terra cotta pots of fuchsias, and giving talks to her club

on making fuchsia corsages. She often spoke of enjoying volunteering at Calistoga’s annual Crab Feed,

Daffodil Tea, and at the museum to help preserve the history & heritage of Calistoga and the Napa

Valley. Mary also expressed love for and pride in her Mother & 3 brothers, and the impact they made on the Whitney/Brown/Butler families, and the Calistoga community.


Also in her life account to her granddaughter, Mary said “I love all of my grandchildren and family very

much; they are the joy in my life. Looking back on my family I am proud of my heritage and also of my

deep roots in California.”


Mary spent her final 8 years at the home of daughter Sigrid, where she was able to enjoy 2 ½ acres in

Tualatin, Oregon, surrounded by tall fir trees, rolling lawn, many beautiful flowers, and an active

community of birds and squirrels.


Mary’s sons wish to acknowledge the diligence & attention with which sister Sigrid cared for their

mother’s affairs and well-being over many years. Thanks also go to Legacy Hospice for their

assistance in Mary’s final weeks.


There will be no services, due to current health concerns in Oregon and California. Mary’s ashes will be

laid to rest in the spring, alongside her mother and grandmother, Lillie Butler Brown, at St. Helena

Cemetery, St. Helena, California.


In lieu of flowers, the family requests any donations be made in memory of Mary Whitney Peterson, to



Legacy Hospice Services,

P.O. Box 3426, Portland, OR 97208


or to;


Sharpsteen Museum, Attn: Director

1311 Washington Street, Calistoga, CA  94515   707-942-5911

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