On Thursday, September 28, 2017, we lost a beautiful, generous, compassionate soul whose light and love filled the hearts of everyone who met her. Our loving wife, mother, grandmother, and great grandmother, Sharon Lee Petersen (Volk) passed away suddenly.
Sharon was an active member of the community in Modesto for many years, and was recognized as a Woman of the Year for Stanislaus County by the Commission for Women. Along with her husband and Melanie Wyatt, Sharon co-founded YES Company to help at risk youth gain confidence in theatrical productions. As a member of the board of the Haven, she fought for the protection and support of abused women while helping them rebuild their lives. She also helped raise money for the American Cancer Society and other local charities. Sharon was a member and a past president of the Turlock Jaycettes.
Politically, Sharon was a proud Democrat and supported many progressive causes and Democratic political candidates. She attended the State Democratic Convention as a delegate, and served on the Democratic Stanislaus County Central Committee. Starting in January 1976, Sharon was the Stanislaus County co-chair for Jimmy Carter’s successful Presidential campaign, and attended the inauguration with her husband Martin in January 1977. She was also a driving force behind Martin Petersen’s successful campaign for County Superintendent in 1990.
Sharon had a desire to break down the barriers between different cultures by building trust and understanding through citizen diplomacy. In 1984, she traveled with the Friendship Force to Moscow in the then USSR. While there she stayed with families and even spoke about her experiences on Radio Moscow. Years later, Sharon hosted former USSR and Russian President Mikhail S. Gorbachev in her home for dinner with her family after he delivered a public lecture at Modesto Junior College. Sharon and Martin hosted three different exchange students over the years as well, and traveled extensively to Taiwan, France, Italy, Spain, Russia, the UK, and nearly a dozen other countries.
Professionally, Sharon was an interior decorator for over 20 years with her firm Interiors by Sharon Lee. She also was a Beauty for All Seasons consultant for 5 years, and always found great joy in helping people look their best. For many years, she worked in her family business, Volk Enterprises. Sharon also had a supporting role in the independent film The Jackpot.
Painting was one of Sharon’s great passions, however. She worked with acrylics early on and focused on water colors for many years. Her works hang proudly in her home and those of friends and family. Along with painting, Sharon was an avid reader. She created a book club with several of her friends where they met monthly for several years in her home.
Sharon loved surrounding herself with family. She is survived by her husband, Martin Gerald Petersen; her three children, Martin Anthony (Nancy), Michele Denise, and Mathew Scott; her six grandchildren, Aidan, Jessica, Chris, Daniel, Greg, and Joseph; her four great-grandchildren, Coen, Henry, Connor, and Reese; her four brothers and sisters, Anthony, Steve, Cindy, and Daniel; and her beloved dog, Maggie. She was preceded in death by her mother, Corinne Volk; her father, Anthony Volk; and her brother, Donald Volk.
A viewing will be held between 4 and 7 p.m. on Monday, October 2. A memorial service will be held at 4 p.m., followed by a reception, on Tuesday, October 3. All services will be held at Turlock Funeral Home, 425 N. Soderquist Rd., Turlock.
Donations can be made in memoriam to the Haven Women’s Center of Stanislaus at https://www.havenwcs.org/.