PETERSEN: Mom joins Club 80 with joy, persistence

By Jeff Petersen, The Observer August 16, 2013 02:48 pm

Mom never won the Nobel Peace Prize. But she often helped make peace among my older brother, younger sister and me, no easy task herding three young rapscallions, the original rap group.

Mom never won a Pulitzer Prize. But she wrote and published several books on family history and magazine articles on her travels in Oregon, the state she loved.

Mom never ran a Made in Oregon store. But she could have filled such a store with products made by her own fair hand, including soap, dresses and canned vegetables and fruits in a rainbow of colors.

Mom never showed off her work in an art gallery, but she was an accomplished painter of Oregon’s lakes, mountains, flowers and trees.

Mom never gave a concert at New York’s Carnegie Hall. But she was a fine pianist and organist for our church, and did a moving version of “Old Rugged Cross.”

Mom never worked for Hallmark Cards. Instead, she came up with her own greeting card line, Snapshots by Shirley, and turned it into a thriving business for 25 years.

Mom never got her name on a building. Her late first husband, Lynn, did, however  — a 12-year school in India. Mom supported that school with all her heart, leading fundraising drives, and visiting India, with all its anarchy and color, five times to make sure the school was growing properly. Many children who might not otherwise have had a chance at a quality education got their shot because of her tireless efforts.

Mom always said she was shy — like her mother, Pansy. But Mom went on trips up and down the Oregon coast and sold cards with the alacrity of Norman Vincent Peale. She had a product she believed in — and rightfully so.

Mom did not receive the acclaim of nature photographer Ansel Adams. But she was a  prolific and accomplished photographer, and she had a great sense of humor. Her shot of the dog couple sitting in the front seat of a car at the Oregon beach was a prime example. The dog couple looked for all the world like an old married couple. The picture was titled “wave watching.”

Mom never planned on having a stroke. But years of unmanaged high blood pressure caught up with her. When she did have a stroke, though, she got help quickly. She worked hard, painfully hard, on her recovery. She wanted to go home to her second husband, Lou, a most interesting and fun man, and continue their adventure. Mom did not quit before the miracle. She still struggles to walk. She struggles to find words — sometimes.

But she carries on with determination — and a desire to see what’s next.

Mom had just a high school education. No worries. It would be easy for some overeducated folks to underestimate Mom. That would be their loss, her gain.

Mom could do it all. Still can. This week she celebrates her 80th birthday. Happy birthday, Mom. Thanks for showing me that no obstacle is too high if we proceed with joy — and persistence.

Contact Jeff Petersen at 541-963-3161 or This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it Follow Jeff on Twitter @lagrandenewsGo.