Cover photo for Marilyn Ann Peterson's Obituary
Marilyn Ann Peterson Profile Photo
1933 Marilyn 2021

Marilyn Ann Peterson

July 22, 1933 — December 12, 2021

Dr. Marilyn A. Whitney Peterson of Cozad passed away Sunday, December 12, 2021 at St. Francis Medical Center in Grand Island at the age of 88.Marilyn, the daughter of Claude and Esther (Soderholm) Whitney, Funk, Nebraska, was born July 22, 1933.She completed her elementary education at Shetler School, Litchfield, and graduated from Loup City High School in 1951. Her activities included class officer, pep club, choir, band, triple trio, sextette, clarinet quartette, accompanist, student librarian, FFA princess, and member of the newspaper and yearbook staffs. She was President of the Methodist Youth Fellowship. She enrolled at Kearney State College, where she majored in English, with minors in art and music and additional studies in journalism. She was inducted into the following honoraries: Art-Kappa Pi; Education-Kappa Delta Pi; English-Sigma Tau Delta; Xi Phi-Mortar Board; and Music-Delta Omicron, as a charter member and receiving the Senior Honor Pin for the highest GPA. She was a member of Zeta Chi Alpha Sorority, the Kearney Symphony Orchestra, Kearney State Concert and Marching Band, Madrigal Singers, Choraleers, Acapella Choir, girls glee, soloist, Student Union Activities Council, charter member; the ANTELOPE newspaper staff and the BLUE AND GOLD yearbook staff. Highlighting her senior year was being chosen as a Homecoming Queen Attendant, plus Dick and she portrayed the typical 1905 couple during the 50th Anniversary of the College, with her designing the official cover for the booklet. Following graduation in 1955, she accepted her first teaching contact in Gothenburg. She and her college sweetheart Dick Peterson were engaged, with their wedding held at the First United Methodist Church, Kearney, June 17, 1956. She taught at Kearney Junior High School, Cozad, Wheat Ridge, Colorado and Eustis, completing her Master's Degree, studying under the auspices of the Ford Foundation. Additional studies were at the University of Albuquerque; St. Edwards University, Austin, Texas; University of Hawaii; major media centers in Europe, and the University of Nebraska, where she was a faculty member at the Nebraska Scholars Institute. In 1964, she began her career as Assistant Professor of Journalism and English at Midland Lutheran College, Fremont. She was promoted to Associate Professor, and was granted professor emeritus status upon retirement. She was proud of her students, garnering the top awards in the nation. Her leadership included National Delegate, First Amendment Congress, and two national Boards of Directors, i.e., Society for Collegiate Journalism and College Media Advisers. Awards include The Outstanding Young Woman From Nebraska, 1970; Outstanding Alumni Award, Kearney State College; National Journalism Hall of Fame, Collegiate and University Advisers; Citation from the State of Nebraska; Distinguished Newspaper Adviser, Distinguished Yearbook Adviser, Distinguished Multi-Media Adviser; Journalism Gold Key, Columbia Scholastic Press Association; the Collegiate Newspaper Hall of Fame; All American Adviser in the Nation; Lifetime Membership, College Media Advisers. She served on the State Board of Directors, charter member, Nebraska Collegiate Media Association, receiving the Leadership Award, plus other citations including the Friend of Journalism Award, Nebraska High School Press Association; The Midland Journalism Award of Distinction, and The Midland All American Award. She was named to the Zimmerman Distinguished Professorship Chair, Midland Lutheran College; received the Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters, Midland; honored by the Midland Trustees, 1985, with a Resolution of Commendation, Journalism; served as the Midland AKSARBEN BALL Higher Education Representative; elected as Midland Faculty Chairperson, and was honored by Drs. Ruth and Rupert Dunklau, with the establishment of the Marilyn Ann Peterson Journalism Program Endowment. She served on the Board of Directors, Nebraska Humanities Council and the Lied Center, and the Advisory Council for Nebraska Public Broadcasting (NET). She was chairperson of the Board of Directors, Cozad Community Hospital; secretary, Cozad Hospital Foundation; and member of Advisory Council for Central Plains Home Health and Hospice. She was inducted into the Cozad Healthcare Hall of Fame, 2014. She has served as Chairperson for three National Smithsonian Exhibits in Cozad; President, P.E.O., Chapter CO; receiving the Cozad Chamber of Commerce Community Service Award in 1996, and was Grand Marshal at the annual Hay Days Parade. Because of her Smithsonian leadership, she attended the National Endowment For the Humanities Conference, Washington, D.C., participating in a television documentary. She also worked with author Bob Greene on the North Platte Canteen story, ONCE UPON A TOWN, related to the Smithsonian Exhibit, "Produce For Victory," reflective of World War II. Additional leadership roles included President of the following: Delta Kappa Gamma, National Teacher Honorary; Altrusa International; American Association of University Women, and Midland Women. The Cozad Community, under the auspices of the 100th Meridian Museum, established the Dick and Marilyn Second-Mile Volunteerism Scholarship, given to a Cozad High School Senior annually. She was baptized at the Methodist Church in Loup City, with her serving as Lay Delegate to Annual Conference, plus serving on various commissions and committees, teaching Sunday School and Bible School, and President of United Methodist Women, plus circles.She has authored and had published books, poetry, short stories, historical tributes, newspaper and magazine articles, plus having her art work juried and shown in a national exhibit. She is listed in several WHO'S WHO publications. She was preceded in death by her parents, her husband, Dick, a brother Winston, baby brother, sister-in-law Louise Whitney, brother-in-law Jerry Decker, nephew Lanford and half-sister Virginia Whitney Rosenbloom and her daughter Martha. Survivors include her sister Carol Whitney Decker, Modesto, California, and sister-in-law Beverly Whitney Grant, and her husband Kenneth, Pasadena, California. Others include nieces and nephews Lindell (Beth) Whitney, Aurora, Colorado; Leyden Whitney, Northglenn, Colorado; Kelly Decker, Kearney; Shelly Decker, Los Angeles; John (Kathy) Rosenbloom and his sister Leslie, Boulder; and special cousins Joanne Nelson, Highlands Ranch, Colorado and Art (Debbie) Soderholm, Johnston, Iowa. Additional family members are Doug (Brenda Grant) Peterson; Rod (Debbie) Miller; and Pam Peterson, all of North Platte; Barbara Gigax; Blake (Mary) Gigax of Hayes Center; Maggie Gigax, Jacksonville, Florida; Jane Peterson, Irving, Texas; Mitchell (Lisa) Peterson, Denver; Jon (Jenith) Peterson, Plano, Texas; and Amy Jo Croteau, Stephensville, Texas plus many extended family members. Special friends include Midland students Jack (Karen) Gubbins, Chicago, and Joe (Pat) Onstott, Boston, plus 100s more, spanning 40 years of teaching. Her favorite times have been playing the piano, by ear, for church, various organizations and events. She also celebrated special days by creating unique theme parties for family and friends. Memorials are suggested to Wilson Public Library or Midland University in Fremont. Services will be held Thursday, December 16, 2021 at 11:00 a.m. at the Cozad United Methodist Church with Pastor Doug Gahn officiating. Burial will be at 9:00 a.m. prior to the service at Prairie Home Cemetery in Holdrege. Visitation with family present will be Wednesday from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Berryman Funeral Home.

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Service Schedule

Past Services

Funeral Service

Thursday, December 16, 2021

Starts at 11:00 am (Central time)

Cozad United Methodist Church

1515 B Street, Cozad, NE 69130

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