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Mary Galbraith Thomas Peterson
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Mary Galbraith Thomas Peterson, a longtime Turlock resident, passed away on March 29, 2014. She was two months shy of her 98 birthday.

Mary was a loving mother, grandmother, artist, printer, printmaker, entrepreneur, freelance writer, poet, bookseller and admitted chocolate–la-holic. 

Artistic, creative, inquisitive, with wanderlust in her bones, she lived life on her terms, and shared her passions with the world.

Mary was born in Springfield, Ill,  on May 22, 1916, but spent most of her childhood in Toledo, Ohio.  She participated in girl scouting and also spent many a Saturday as an art student at the Toledo Art Museum. She attended Long Beach Jr. College (City College) in CA, and graduated in 1938 from Pomona College in Claremont, CA, with a degree in Art and English. Upon graduation from college, she taught Art and English for a few years at Ramona Union High School, in San Diego, CA.

Looking for something different, she moved to NYC where she worked for The National Association of Manufactures and also Sloane House YMCA. While there, she was a Girl Scout group leader in the area known as “Hell’s Kitchen.”

During WWII, she served honorably in the U.S. Naval Reserve as an Ensign in the WAVES. She was a coding officer stationed in Washington DC. It was there where she met and married Major William Waugh Rousseau Peterson, of the U.S. Army.

After the war, they settled in Pacific Palisades, CA. where they had three children. Upon the untimely death of her husband in 1961, Mary relocated her family to Escondido, CA. where she continued her freelance writing and photography. Her passion for the written word found her as the owner and proprietor of the Book Nook, a used and out of print bookstore in Escondido.  Mary was active in the Escondido branch of the American Legion Post 149, as well as the ABWA (American Business Writers Association), Zonta International, and AAUW (American Association of University Women), San Diego Chapter.

Having successfully raised three children, Mary relocated to Turlock, CA., in 1975 to go back to school at Cal State Stanislaus, where she graduated once again in 1987 with a Master of Arts. Not wanting to have a brick and mortar bookstore store again, but still wishing to remain in the book business, she started Books in Transit, a mail order used and out of print search and book business specializing in any book under the Arts umbrella. 

Mary not only bought and sold books, she also made and printed miniature books. She belonged to the International Miniature Book Society. Their yearly events provided a chance for cultural exchange and world travel.

Her passion for the written word lead her to teach adults to read through Adult Literacy with Laubach Literacy Action.

Mary was active civically in Turlock, serving on the Turlock Arts Council. She continued with AAUW in Turlock, and was Chapter President 1987. She also supported the Friends of the Turlock Library, helping out yearly with their annual book sale. She also supported and belonged to Friends of the Carnegie Library, Friends of the Burlingame Library, Central Valley Antiquarian Booksellers Association, Valley Computer Club, Zonta International, Turlock Tuesday Reading Club, National Museum of Women in the Arts, Friends of Dieu Donné Papermill, Golden Valley Weavers and Spinners, CNCH (Conference of Northern CA Handweavers), National Trust for Historic Preservation, American Craft Council, Stanislaus Wildlife Care Center and American Legion Rex Ish Post 88.

Mary said she thought she personally kept the Hershey chocolate factory from going under by her daily ratio of chocolate consumption. Some of her favorite sayings were “Tough Muffins,” in response to those who complained for the sake of complaining, or about herself, “I’m an old cookie…and old cookies don’t crumble.” 

Mary is preceded in death by her husband Colonel William Waugh R. Peterson and her son Thomas Rousseau Peterson.

Mary is survived by her son Richard E. Peterson of Los Angeles, CA, his wife Heather Peterson, and Mary’s grandchildren Eric and Kelcie Peterson; her daughter Maura A. Peterson & her husband Ronald C. Ritchey of Miami, FL; her daughter in law, Margaret T. Peterson of Midland, Texas, and Mary’s grandchildren Mary Margaret Peterson and Paul W. Peterson of Midland Texas.  

A public memorial service for Mary will be held at 1:30 p.m., Thursday, June 26, 2014, at the Carnegie Arts Center, 250 N. Broadway, Turlock, CA, 95380. Parking is available behind the Carnegie, or public lot across from the police services building on corner of N. Broadway and Olive.

Mary will be interred on June 30, 2014 at 11 a.m., at Ft. Rosecrans National Cemetery, 1800 Cabrillo Memorial Drive, San Diego, CA 92106. 

Phone: (619) 553-2084

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to Pomona College, (Art Dept.), Claremont, CA.; or Cal State Stanislaus (Art Dept.), Turlock, CA; or Turlock Friends of the Library, Turlock, CA; or Carnegie Arts Center, Turlock, Ca.

Condolences for the family may be offered online at