Mary Margaret Peterson, 93, of Chesapeake, Virginia, died Thursday, February 11, 2016, at home. She died from a series of unexpected illnesses that plagued her aging body over the last three months of her life. She died peacefully and comfortably in her home, in the company of her daughter and son.
Mary Margaret Silver Peterson was born on September 17, 1922, in Shelby, to John Worth Silver and Mary Etta Hyder Silver. She was born at home by the light of a kerosene lamp, with water poured from a china bowl and pitcher, and named after her maternal grandmother, Mary, and paternal grandmother, Margaret. She was descended from Revolutionary War veteran George Silver of Kona. She lived in Shelby with her parents; younger brother, Gene; and maternal grandparents until she completed her high school education. Another younger brother, John Reid, died in infancy. She spent summers in Asheville and Black Mountain with her paternal grandparents. She made a public profession of Christian faith and discipleship as a young woman in the First Baptist Church of Shelby, where she was baptized. She later joined the Second Baptist Church of Shelby. She graduated from Shelby High School in 1939.
Mary Margaret attended Mars Hill College (University) in Mars Hill, when she was 16 years old. She graduated from Mars Hill in 1941 with an associate of arts degree. She worked for a year at a bakery in her hometown of Shelby, then she attended Meredith College in Raleigh. She graduated from Meredith in 1944 with a bachelor of arts degree, and majors in English and education. At Meredith, she made a personal commitment to vocational Christian ministry. She left North Carolina in the Fall of 1944, going alone by bus to Fort Worth, Texas, to attend Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. At the seminary, she met and later married another student, Linwood Peterson. Linwood was from Leland, and he was attending seminary in response to a personal commitment to vocational Christian ministry. Mary Margaret and Linwood became engaged to be married on Valentine’s Day in 1945, and they were married on May 24th, 1945, in the Second Baptist Church of Shelby. They spent their honeymoon on Atlantic Beach, Mary Margaret’s first time to see the ocean, then returned to Texas to complete their educations. Mary Margaret graduated from Southwestern Seminary in 1947 with a master of religious education degree.
Mary Margaret taught school for six months, just long enough to buy a car for her and her husband. As a young couple, Mary Margaret and Linwood served as pastor and spouse of churches in Texas, including the First Baptist Churches of Ben Franklin, Enloe, Rockdale, and Leander, and Immanuel Baptist Church of Temple. They gave birth to three children in Texas, daughters, Donna and Paula, and son, Dale. She was named Mother of the Year for 1953 in Temple. They moved to Lincolnton, in 1955, to serve as pastor and spouse of First Baptist Church. In 1959, they moved to Norfolk, Virginia, to serve Virginia Heights Baptist Church, and stayed till 1975. In Norfolk, they gave birth to a son David, who died in infancy of Cystic Fibrosis. In 1975, they moved to Roanoke, Virginia, and served Airlee Court Baptist Church. In 1981, they moved to Hampton, Virginia, and served Langley Baptist Church. Linwood retired in 1994, after which he and Mary Margaret served interim pastorates with Goshen Baptist Church of Leland, Bayside Baptist Church and Glenwood Baptist Church of Virginia Beach, Virginia, Ivor Baptist Church of Ivor, Virginia, and Holland Baptist Church of Holland, Virginia. Linwood died on May 25th, 2007, at the age of 86, at home in Chesapeake. Mary Margaret and Linwood were married for 62 years. After Linwood’s death, Mary Margaret shared a home with her daughter, Donna, in the Great Bridge community of Chesapeake. They lived together until Donna died in 2014. Mary Margaret was a member of Freemason Street Baptist Church of Norfolk.
Mary Margaret served the churches where her husband was pastor as a teacher, missions leader, and minister’s wife. She taught Sunday School to adults. She studied the Bible and taught Bible lessons to her students, carefully applying those lessons to everyday life. She was highly respected as a good teacher who taught with her life and her words. Her relationships with many of those she taught continued as strong friendships throughout her life. She studied the missions of the church as it reached beyond the local church into the community and around the world, and she taught about missions to others in the churches. She held positions of leadership on the local, regional, state, and national levels with Woman’s Missionary Union and Minister’s Wives organizations affiliated with the Baptist churches she and her husband served. She was invited to speak, pray, and teach in many congregations and conference centers in the areas where she lived. She served as president of the Virginia Baptist Ministers’ Wives (1980-1981) and secretary of the national organization. She was an excellent homemaker, and dearly loved as a wife and mother. She loved any time with her friends, a good game of dominoes, and a large cone of ice cream. She believed strongly in God’s faithfulness to her throughout her long life.
Mary Margaret was preceded in death by her parents, John Worth and Mary Etta Silver; husband, Linwood Peterson; brothers, John Reid and Edward Eugene Silver; son, David Linwood Peterson; daughter, Donna Lynn Peterson; and other beloved family members.
She is survived by daughter, Paula Peterson Groover of Leland; son, Dale Wood Peterson of Chesapeake; grandchildren, Alex Farrior, and wife, Crystal Farrior, of Virginia Beach, and Leah Witham, and husband, Kenneth Witham, of New London, New Hampshire; great-grandchildren, Jeremy, David, Austen, Tyler, Hunter, William and Cody; great-great-grandchild, Aubrey; sisters-in-law, Mary Lennon, of Wilmington, Elsie Peterson, of Leland, and Julia Silver of Sykesville, Maryland; nieces and nephews, Evelyn Hall, Terry Peterson, Harry Peterson-Nedry, Monica Watson, Lynda Walker, Paula Croom, Glen Peterson, Clarice Willoughby, John Willoughby, Julia Fleming, Dave Fleming, Laura Pounds, Greg Pounds, Charles Silver and Jean Silver; and other beloved family members and many dear friends.
A funeral service for Mary Margaret will be held at 5 p.m. on Tuesday, February 16, at Freemason Street Baptist Church of Norfolk, followed by a reception for visitation. Officiating ministers are the Rev. Dr. Randy Ashcraft, the Rev. Dr. Michael Sciretti, the Rev. Rachel Sciretti, the Rev. Sharon James and the Rev. Harold Bergey. The church is located at 400 East Freemason Street in downtown Norfolk, Virginia. Local arrangements are being handled by Oman Funeral Home, Great Bridge Chapel, of Chesapeake. All are invited and welcome.
A second funeral service for Mary Margaret will be held at 11 a.m. on Thursday, February 18, at Goshen Baptist Church of Leland. Burial will follow the service in the Goshen Baptist Church Cemetery. Officiating ministers are the Rev. Dr. Barbara Bell, the Rev. Dr. Kenneth Bryant, the Rev. Dr. Ray Frazier and the Rev. Dale Peterson. Goshen Baptist Church is located at 4124 Mt. Misery Road in Leland. Local arrangements are being handled by Andrews Mortuary, Market Street Chapel, of Wilmington. All are invited and welcome.
Donations in memory of Mary Margaret Peterson may be made to Freemason Street Baptist Church, the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, Mars Hill University, and Meredith College.