Suzanne Gordon Peters, beloved wife, mother, grandmother, sister and friend, died of complications from Parkinson’s disease on Nov. 13, 2013. Visitation with the family will be from 4 to 6 p.m. today, Nov. 20, at St. Thomas Aquinas Church in Ames with a prayer vigil to follow. A funeral mass will be at 10:30 a.m. Thursday, Nov. 21, at St. Thomas with private burial to follow.
Sue was born on Aug. 25, 1935, in Fremont, Neb., to Lyle and Dorothy (Craighead) Gordon. The family moved to Grinnell, then to Newton where she graduated from Newton Senior High School in 1953. She attended Iowa State Teachers’ College in Cedar Falls, graduating with a bachelor of arts degree in English in 1957.
Sue married Leo C. Peters on June 8, 1957, in Newton. The couple relocated from Cedar Falls to Ames in 1962, where they lived until 2011. She completed her coursework for a master’s degree in learning disabilities at Iowa State University and taught in the Ames school system for 13 years, first at Central Junior High and then at Ames Senior High. Sue was an active parishioner at St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church in Ames where she served as a lector and Eucharistic minister as well as member of the parish council, chair of the parish council, and director of religious education. She was also active in Camp Fire, serving as a leader and writing a book on the history of Camp Fire in Ames.
Sue lived her life with an energy that belied the fact that while working and volunteering, she was also raising her nine children. Fueled by bottomless cups of hot tea, the cold remnants of which could almost always be found in the microwave and on most flat surfaces in the house, she began every day at an indecently early hour by jogging through the neighborhood, doing a crossword puzzle or making scrambled eggs and pancakes for the cat. Sue spent much of her downtime in her signature pink fuzzy bathrobe, the pockets of which were stuffed with Peanut M&M’s she’d only begrudgingly share with others. Sue played the viola throughout college, and continued to do so sporadically with the church and at home. She was a self-taught guitar player and singer, whose repertoire was mostly sixties and seventies folk music. Sue’s children came to know and were encouraged to sing along to most of the Beatles’ and Simon and Garfunkle’s song catalogs. She appreciated artists from Itzak Pearlman and Yo Yo Ma to Ray Charles, John Denver and the Rolling Stones. Sue claimed that the first concert she attended upon moving to Ames was the Grateful Dead in Bandshell Park.
While much of her time was consumed by her children and home life, Sue found time to pursue her own interests. She loved reading, biking, running, tennis and almost any other activity she could do outdoors. Her summer vegetable gardens were always prolific. Sue made a fantastic potato salad from scratch and was known for her incredible pumpkin bread and pie, which she deemed nutritionally sound enough for breakfast before school as long as it included a serving of dairy provided by the addition of Cool Whip.
Sue was fiercely competitive both in sports and in her beloved board and card games. Given her sharp memory and cut-throat nature, she won nearly every game she started. Her children and other regular players knew better than to think she’d throw a game in deference to their age. Her friends at the Ames Senior Center soon learned the same lesson on poker days. She loved watching Iowa State sports, and remained a loyal fan even when they were dishearteningly bad.
In 1984, Sue was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease. Despite the disabling nature of the disease, she applied the same spirit and drive she had in everything else, and fought the rest of her life; refusing to allow her diagnosis to define her spirit or the way she wanted to live. Sue suffered a stroke in 2006, and thereafter required the care of Green Hills Retirement Community in Ames, and then Rolling Green Village in Nevada where she and Leo moved in 2011. It was there that she would spend the remainder of her life.
Left to mourn her loss is her husband of 56 years, Leo C. Peters; her children Mark (Marie) Peters of Wilmington, Del.; Brian (Joan) Peters of Georgetown, Del.; Lisa (Jackson) Price of Oswego, Ill.; Juliette Peters of Normal, Ill.; Diane Peters (David Rix) of Portland, Ore.; Nancy Peters of Iowa City; Amy Peters of Ames; Teresa Peters (Eric Reed) of Dallas, Texas, and Eric (Kathryn) Peters of Ankeny.
She is also survived by her grandchildren Stephen (Teresa) Peters and their children Isabelle and Ethan Peters of Everett, Wash.; Michael Peters of Wilmington, Del.; Andrew Peters of Montreal, Canada; Ellen Peters of Wilmington, N.C.; Lindsay Price and Jackson Price of Oswego, Ill.; Spencer Price and his daughter Chloe Price of Texas; Brandon (Lindsay) Fiscus of Bloomington, Ill.; Ryan Fiscus of Bloomington, Ill.; Nichole Fiscus (Charles Trueblood) of Normal, Ill.; Jillian Rix and Lara Rix of Portland, Ore.; Jared Kline and Sarah Kline of Iowa City; Jacob Jimenez and Joseph Jimenez of Ames; Jack Reed and Helen Reed of Dallas, Texas; and Lauren Peters and Claire Peters of Ankeny.
Additional survivors include her sisters JoAnn (Kenneth) Versteegh, Linda (Roger) Wilker, Sally (Davis) Lamson, Kristi (William) Eberhart, and brothers David Gordon, Jon (Sheryl) Gordon, and Tim (Peg) Gordon.
She was preceded in death by her parents Lyle and Dorothy Gordon.
At her core, and to the end, Sue was a teacher. In her ability to find humor and joy in the face of such an arbitrarily cruel disease, Sue taught her family, friends and everyone she encountered the true meaning of grace, peace and unconditional love. While her spirit and joy live on in all who knew and loved her, the world has lost a true original.
Stevens Memorial Chapel in Ames is in charge of funeral arrangements. Online condolences may be expressed at www.StevensMemorialChapel.com. In lieu of flowers, the family asks memorial contributions be directed to the Ames Education Foundation or the Heart of Hawkeye Council of Camp Fire, USA.