A natural celebration

When it comes to Superior's Tribute Tree program, Marianne Peters is a big fan and easily leads citizen efforts to increase the city's stock of street trees.

When it comes to Superior's Tribute Tree program, Marianne Peters is a big fan and easily leads citizen efforts to increase the city's stock of street trees.

She has sponsored eight of the 20 trees planted because of citizen participation.

Her creativity, which includes honoring a marriage, in using the program has been inspirational, said Mary Morgan, city forester and Parks and Recreation administrator.

So when it came time to plan the 80th birthday celebration of the Peters family matriarch -- which just happens to fall on 08-08-08 -- her children decided to take their cue from their mother.

"My mom just has a great love of nature," her daughter Vivian Markley said. "She loves to golf, she's a gardener, she's a hunter ... She's definitely is a supporter of the city of Superior Tribute Tree program ... She just sees trees as an ongoing thing."


Among the things she is known for is her hospitality when city crews come out to plant the Tribute Trees.

"We hold little ceremonies ... during the planting of the Tribute Trees," Morgan said. "Mrs. Peters has been so gracious to offer refreshments year in and year out, after she has also already donated the planting."

Long before the city developed the program, Peters has planted trees in honor of others so it seemed a fitting tribute, her children said.

Today, the family is caravanning from one of her children's house to the next. At Markley's home, Burma-Shave signs honor her mother's endearing qualities -- Swedish party gal, card shark, rummage sale queen and the like.

There and at her other children's homes, trees were planted in Marianne Peters honor in recognition of her love of nature. Then, at each home, family members honored their mother's hospitality by offering refreshment as the trees were planted and marker's honoring her were placed.

When planning for the celebration began, it was already too late for the city's tree-planting program, created to help increase the stock of street and park trees.

It was Marianne's love of nature, flowers and trees, and advocacy of the tribute tree program, that drove their decision on how to help their mother celebrate today.

"I think it was her children's idea -- because she believes so strongly in giving back to the community ... she has become one of the strongest advocates of the tree program" her son, Police Chief Floyd Peters Jr. said. So instead of giving gifts she may not need or want, her children decided to plant a tree in her honor, he said.


And carrying on her tradition of showing hospitality to the tree crew, the city's Urban Forestry Board, and all others invited to attend the Tribute Tree ceremony, the family also offered little treats at each stop.

Peters gave her children's surprise a thumbs up.

"She has always been one that we could look up to," her daughter Gloria Raygor said. "She was always a very hard worker who had very high standards. She is kind of like the Energizer Bunny of our family -- hard to keep up with her some days."

In addition to her love of the outdoors, and commitment to the community, her children say her talents are many -- flower arrangements, cake decorator, baker, party planner -- but she's best known for being a good sport with a wonderful sense of humor.

"I'm just along for the ride," she said.

She even got on a motorcycle today, her granddaughter Angie Hadley said.

"She's a wonderfully gracious lady," Morgan said.

A native of Varmland, Sweden, Peters came to the United States when she was a young child. She married her high school sweetheart, Floyd Peters, a marriage that lasted 51 years until his death in 1998. The couple raised five daughters and a son. Today, she has 15 grandchildren and 27 great-grandchildren.


In spite of her many years in American, she never lost sight of her roots. One of the family's traditions was that each girl in the family has been photographed at age 2 wearing the same outfit -- dress, hat, apron, stockings).

"Family members in Sweden sent a boy's outfit to my Mom when my brother, Pete (Floyd) was two so he also had his picture taken at that age," Markley said.

To the many children she babysat while raising her six children, she remains "Mama Peters" to this day, Markley said.

"Mom has been so helpful in many ways, not only to our family, but different one's in the community," Raygor said.

"My mom is always reaching out to other people," Markley said.

Along the way family members are gathering to join that caravan for the big celebration to her daughter, Karen Miller's lakeside home in Cotton, Minn.

At Raygor's Superior home, great-grandchildren offered gifts of painted rocks during the tree dedication. The rocks, like the Swedish costumes the children have been photographed in and the music lessons each of her children took, are a family tradition. Soon they'll adorn Peters' garden.

"It's been an emotional day so far," Peters said this morning of the surprise her children lined. "I guess their planning to do a progressive thing. Their planting trees along the way, which is really good."


Contact Shelley Nelson at (715) 395-5022 or snelson@

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