Born in Adams Township on May 25, 1924 to the late Ralph and Mary Hadley Webb, Virgene was a lifelong resident of Clinton County. She graduated from Adams Township High School in 1942 and began her career in education in 1943. Virgene attended Wilmington College, where she earned her Bachelor’s degree in elementary education. She married the late Marvin Peterson in 1946, and they were married for over 50 years. She lived on her family’s farm until her death.
Mrs. Peterson began her teaching career at Kingman Township School (now a part of Clinton-Massie schools) in Chester Township in 1943, just one year after graduating from high school, because of a shortage of teachers during World War II. Mrs. Peterson taught at Kingman from 1943 to 1958. She then began teaching at Wilmington City Schools, where she taught fifth grade at Smith Place School from 1958 to 1970. Moving to Denver Place Elementary School in 1970, Mrs. Peterson taught fifth grade at Denver Place from 1970 to 1993. She retired in 1993 from full-time teaching after 50 years in education. Mrs. Peterson, known for saying, “education is in my blood,” immediately returned to the classroom, where she continued to substitute teach and volunteer with Wilmington City Schools for an additional 20 years from 1993 to 2013. Serving in Clinton County schools for 70 years—a tenure twice as long as typical teachers—Mrs. Peterson worked hard to serve her community by teaching lessons of servant leadership, goodwill towards others, and igniting a spark for lifelong learning in her students. Never viewing it as work, Mrs. Peterson often told former students and parents, “I just always viewed school as a fun place to spend my days.” A teacher of third, fourth, and fifth grades, Mrs. Peterson has impacted the lives of thousands of students and families in the community. “Education is my life,” Mrs. Peterson would say. “It is the only thing I have ever known. I haven’t been out of the classroom since I entered the first grade.”
She was an active member of Chester Friends Meeting, the Clinton County Retired Teacher’s Association, and the Ohio Retired Teacher’s Association. Virgene was also a member of the Mt. Pleasant Grange, Young Mother’s Club, Progress Club, and Turning the Corner. Virgene volunteered with Leadership Clinton Youth Collaborative, and she enjoyed serving as a faithful election poll worker for numerous years. Her special interests included family, gatherings with friends and retired teachers, mowing the yard, traveling, Cincinnati Reds baseball, and the Clinton County Fair.
Mrs. Peterson is survived by her son Jay (Cindy) Peterson, and daughter Bunny (Ed) Bradshaw, grandchildren Adam (Maggie Fadley) Peterson, Heath (Amanda) Bradshaw, and Curt Bradshaw, great-grandchildren Owen Bradshaw, Ava Fadley Peterson, and Aubrie Bradshaw, brother-in-law Harold Moore, and several nieces, nephews, and cousins.
She was preceded in death by her husband Marvin Peterson, brother and sister-in-law Dale and Glenna Webb, sister-in-law Barbara Moore, and brother-in-law Stanley Peterson.
Funeral services will be 2:00 PM, Thursday, October 19, 2017 at the Reynolds-Smith Funeral Home, 327 N. South Street, Wilmington, Ohio. Burial will be in Sugar Grove Cemetery. Friends may call from 4:00 PM – 8:00 PM, Wednesday, October 18, 2017 at the Reynolds-Smith Funeral Home.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to Chester Friends Meeting, 378 Darbyshire Drive, Wilmington, Ohio 45177, or to the Wilmington City Schools Foundation, 341 S. Nelson Avenue, Wilmington, Ohio 45177.