Return to Class of 1953

Mary Harms12/20/2012
Known and loved for her strong faith, kindness, grace and generous heart, Mary Jane
Peitersen unexpectedly passed into her Lord's arms Dec. 20, 2012, at Martinsburg
City Hospital.

She was born June 22, 1935, in Oelwein, Iowa, to the late Otto and Virginia Harms,
and attended schools in Estherville and Knoxville, Iowa, and Vincennes, Ind. She
was valedictorian of her senior high school class and attended the University of
Iowa on full scholarship.

She graduated with a bachelor of science in nursing, magna cum laude, in 1957. She
would later earn a master of science in nursing from the University of Maryland
at Baltimore in 1978, while working full-time and raising three children.

In 1956, she married her husband, Merton Norman Peitersen, then a graduate student
at the University of Iowa, and would later become the mother of three children,
Mary Elizabeth, Marc Norman and Matthew Neil. For her 50th wedding anniversary in
2006, she and her husband renewed their wedding vows in front of a large gathering
of family and friends. She and her husband had been married for 56 years at the
time of her death.

She spent most of her 40-plus year career in medical surgical nursing. She spent
many years as a floor nurse caring for patients recovering from surgery before moving
on to nursing administration, including serving as Assistant Director of Nursing
at Good Samaritan Hospital, Baltimore; Deputy Director of Nursing at University
of Maryland Hospital, Baltimore; and Director of Nursing at Rosewood Center, Owings
Mills, Md. Her last position before retiring was with the State of Maryland Board
of Nursing, supervising the licensing of advanced nursing practitioners such as
nurse practitioners and nurse midwives.

Teaching the next generation of nurses was also important to her. In addition to
serving as a member of the Catonsville Community College Nursing Advisory Council,
she was a guest lecturer at both the University of Maryland School of Nursing and
the Johns Hopkins University.

She was an actively participating member of Salem Lutheran Church in Catonsville,
Md., for 27 years before her retirement. After retiring in 2000, she and her husband
moved to Hedgesville. Actively practicing her Christian faith her entire life, she
was a member of the Hedgesville United Methodist Church and active in many committees,
including the church choir and the Parish Nursing Project.

"She was the best of wives, mothers, grandmothers and friends. She devoted her life
to helping others," according to her daughter, Mary Beth. "When she wasn't working,
her priorities were family, faith and helping friends and others."

She took special delight in her four grandchildren, especially when they were able
to come for extended summertime visits.

In addition to her husband and three children, she is survived by her son-in-law,
Victor Gearhart; her daughter-in-law, Laura Peitersen; her grandchildren, Sean Gearhart,
Stephen Gearhart, Rhiannon Peitersen and Sierra Peitersen; her sister, Stephanie
and husband, Al Smith; another sister, Katherine and her husband, Ken Barnes; and
a brother, Fred and his wife, Nancy. Her older sister, Elizabeth, died in infancy.
She is also survived by her brother-in-law, Daryl; nieces and nephews, Debbie Wick,
Christopher Smith, Cara Shoup, Jason Barnes, David Peitersen, Kelley Peitersen,
and their respective spouses and families; as well as many friends and fell