Susan Nourse Peterson

Susan Nourse Peterson passed away on Feb. 22, 2021, at the age of 84 after a long illness.

Susan was born in southern California in January 1937, to Gwendolyn and John Nourse. She was in the first graduating class of Arcadia High School and went on to graduate from Stanford University with a Bachelor of Arts in history.

Sue was an avid reader. Starting with the daily newspaper, no day went by without her turning the pages of some mix of news, history, biography, mystery, nature, science, or research. While at Stanford, Sue met Rolf Peterson, and they married shortly after graduating.

Several years later, they settled in Las Vegas, Nevada. This was home base for the many family trips Sue planned to destinations, including the Grand Canyon, Zion National Park, Death Valley, and the Sierra.

Her three children remember ‘growing up outdoors,’ as they hiked, camped and backpacked throughout the southwest with the youngest going on her first backpacking trip before she started preschool. Sue learned about and explored each of these places from its human history to its geology and its natural history. As a birder, her binoculars were always at hand to view birds she encountered. 

Like her mother, Sue devoted much of her time to volunteering. She was especially active as a Girl Scout leader. Sue made it possible for many girls to explore the outdoors by leading outdoor adventures to many places including backpacking trips from the rim to the river in the Grand Canyon and through the Zion Narrows. Sue was also instrumental in establishing a canoeing program for the local Girl Scout Council. She then taught canoeing techniques and water safety skills to girls before leading them on one day and multi-day canoe trips on the Colorado and Green Rivers. 

When her children left home, Sue continued helping youth. She earned a teaching credential and taught elementary school in Los Angeles. She also dedicated more time to her interest in genealogy and devoted many hours to researching her ancestors.

After teaching for eight years, Sue moved to Livermore. Soon after that, Rolf retired, and they enjoyed 22 years of active, adventurous retirement that included traveling and camping in the southwest, taking trips to the midwest to explore family history, attending college reunions and football games, and enjoying annual trips to Lake Tahoe.

Sue enjoyed spending time with her two grandsons, reading to them, picking out toys and books they would enjoy, and volunteering in their classrooms. As they grew older, she continued the tradition of family camping by sharing annual trips to the Sierra.

Susan is survived by her husband, Rolf; brother, John and his wife Susie; daughter, Sharon; son, Steve; daughter, Linda, and her husband Efraín; and grandsons, Nicholas and Austin. A small family celebration of life will be held at a later date. Donations in Sue’s memory may be made to Point Blue Conservation Science, the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology or to your favorite charity.