Joan Olive Francis Peterson
February 25, 1926 - February 23, 2022 (age 95)
Having lived life to the fullest, Joan Olive Francis Peterson (nee Delamare) age 95, passed peacefully on Wednesday, February 23, 2022, in Wadsworth, OH, just two days shy of her 96th birthday. Her loving family were by her side.
Born on February 25th, 1926, in London, England to the late Frederick J. Delamare and wife, Bey (nee Sinfield). She was the middle child of three: an older sister Pauline Talbot (nee Delamare), Eastbourne, England, (d. 2002) and a younger brother, Frederick, who died in infancy (d. 1920). Joan grew up in depression era England and was just 13 in 1939, when her youth was interrupted by an event that shaped the world...World War II. She told gripping tales of what growing up during "The Blitz" in London was like, recalling sights and sounds that happened right over her head! Many of her family's nights were spent in bomb shelters, rationing was the norm and we winced at her stories of eating pigeons for protein. They took pleasure in simple things like the excitement in enough ingredients to bake bread and the luxury of having a (rare) stick of butter to share at the dinner table.
One of her childhood stories was about riding her bike home from school and hearing a "pop-pop-pop" right behind her. She looked over her shoulder and saw a trail of dirt puffs erupting from the ground ... and coming right towards her. She dove her bike into the nearby ditch then looked up to see a very low flying HE-111 bomber glide right by. There, lying on the ground, she stared eye to eye with the grinning pilot while his door gunner continued swinging his gun back and forth.
Like many children of the time, Joan's education was interrupted, and she was evacuated to the safety of the countryside. In 1944, at the age of 18, she was assigned to a "Work of National Importance" much like every able-bodied Brit at the time. After multiple assignments, Joan landed at the Armament Unit of the United States Eighth Army Air Force (USAAF), Melchbourne, England, where she was a secretary. It was one of the many B-17 bases that dotted the East Anglia countryside. Joan fondly reminisced about working with the US Army, but sad memories remained. They often listened to the roar of 1,000 bombers flying overhead and off to Germany. "It was a sound you'd never forget!" Witnessing their departure brought anxiety of their return, there were always fewer. That year brought more terror from the East, the V1 Buzz Bombs and what they taught, "when you heard them buzzing you were safe, when they stopped, you better duck!"
As a young British gal in 1944 England, the German military was not the only army to worry about. England had been "invaded" by nearly a million American, Canadian, and other allied troops all preparing to topple "Festung Europa" with their goal of bombing Germany into submission. Soon, the British populace tired of the Americans, saying that the problem with them was they were "over paid, over sexed, and over here." While bombers were decreasing in number, children born as the result of military romances were rising. 40 years after WWII there were tens of thousands of British citizens whose fathers were American servicemen, many with the hopes of contacting their biological father.
These early war experiences had a lasting effect on Joan. She didn't know it at the time but in her later years she would volunteer for an organization named TRACE (Transatlantic Children's Enterprise). Joan did a lot of research and "grunt work" at TRACE and her work - more often than not - led to many happy reunions. As an organization they did what they could, and respected peoples wishes along the way. Her research was conducted through various historical associations including the British American War Museum, of which she was a member. Her TRACE work also led her to membership in the 2003rd Ordnance Veterans Group that held reunions until May 2003.
The war finally ended on VE Day May 8, 1945, and Great Britain started getting back to normal. It was during this time Joan became personal secretary to the Director of Vickers Aircraft until 1959. That same year brought about an event that would again change her life forever. On a warm June day in 1959, she was introduced by her then brother-in-law, Brian E. Talbot (d. 2018), to Marshall Peterson, a young University of Wisconsin Alumni chemist from the small town of Peshtigo, WI who was visiting while on a business trip from New York City. After he left to go back to the states, their pre-Telstar communications flourished and entailed many Airmail letters. Then, in just a few short months, a late-night call was made from Manhattan to London. The words "Will you Marry me?" came across the static line. She said yes! On November 27, 1959, in San Juan, Puerto Rico while standing in front of the judge during their wedding ceremony, Marshall nudged Joan when to say "Si", Spanish for "I do." And a Certificado de Matrimonio was in their hands.
Joan and Marshall made their first home in New Jersey where they raised a daughter Janine and son Harvey. The 1970's brought change and the family moved to Bay Village, OH. While living in Bay Village Joan became a naturalized American Citizen. Retirement years then prompted a move to Avon Lake, OH. Their most recent move was to Wadsworth, OH where they've resided for the past 8 years. They have been members of the Unitarian Universalist Church since 1963.
Her many hobbies included ice dancing, horseback riding, bird watching, tennis, gardening, knitting and some excellent traditional English dishes like roast beef and Yorkshire pudding. And dare we leave out "The Pudd" - an impressive flaming Christmas Pudding.
No stranger to challenges, Joan proved how brave and tough she really was by beating breast cancer in her late 70's, and then fought a fierce battle with Alzheimer's during the last 12 years of her life.
She is survived by her husband Marshall of 62 years who was also her devoted Caregiver for the last 12 of those years. Joan was the loving mother of Janine Peterson-Black (Dennis) of Wadsworth OH, and son Harvey (Lisa Pim) of Lakewood, OH. Grandmother of Alexander Delamare Peterson and Jana Pim Peterson, Lakewood, OH. Nephew Gerard Talbot of Los Angeles, CA. Sister-in-law Dorothy Peterson (Maurice d. 1979) of Pickerington, OH. Nephews Jon Peterson (Becky) of Bellingham, WA, Tom Peterson (Karen) of Pickerington, OH, and Niece Geri-Lynn Jamieson (Duffy) of Williston, VT. Great Nephews Jake Peterson (Rachel), Frank Peterson, and Great Niece Kelly Peterson all of Columbus, OH.
A Peterson family thank you to our team of excellent Caregivers. The Hospice of the Western Reserve, Comfort Keepers, Sanctuary Health Network (Magnolia). And special thanks to Chris, Judy, and Chris W. From special organizations to individual helpers, you all taught our family what loving care really means.
In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation in Joan's name to Alzheimer's Disease Research, 22512 Gateway Center Drive, Clarksburg, MD 20871. Brightfocus.org/stopAD
A Celebration of Life memorial is being planned for Joan later this year.
Many years ago, Joan captured her war time memories in written form. Her collection of stories became a memoirs book assembled by husband Marshall.
We miss her dearly.