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Monday, November 13, 2023
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Mardell Rae (Nelson) Peterson entered her heavenly home on October 19, 2023, at 87 years old. She was born in Wahoo, Nebraska to Carl and Esther Nelson on June 13, 1936. Mardell was the baby of the family, she had two older sisters, LaVonna and Lauralie, and an older brother, Ronald. In sixth grade, the family moved from Wahoo to Omaha where Mardell grew up as a city girl. Originally, Mardell’s grandparents emigrated from Sweden, which produced a strong Swedish pride that was carried throughout her life.
Upon graduating high school, she attended Bethel College in St. Paul, Minnesota, where she met dear lifelong friends. She finished her bachelor’s degree in education at the University of Omaha (now UNO). This is where her lifelong passion to encourage children to learn and reach their full potential began professionally. She worked as a first and second-grade teacher in Omaha before moving to Turlock, California, where she then taught in Modesto. While living in California, she married Richard Peterson who was the brother of a friend from Bethel. Richard was a pilot in the Air Force, stationed at Castle Air Force Base in Atwater, California. The military took them to Michigan, Hawaii, and finally, Nebraska before Richard retired from the military. Along the way, they had three children, Janelle, Mark, and Karl. After his retirement, they moved to Littleton, Colorado where they raised their family and became faithful members of Mission Hills Church. Over the years, she worked a myriad of part-time jobs while also loving her duties as a mom. Some of these jobs included owning a video store, making service calls for a car dealership, calls for ARC, mailings for hospitality videos, and selling Tupperware. Mardell and Richard were married for 52 years before Richard passed away in 2015. She lovingly cared for him at home in his last years of life as he battled Alzheimer’s.
The central theme of Mardell’s life was to love God and draw others to know Him through everything she did. She believed the truth of the Gospel down to her core and believed that having Christ at the center of life was of the utmost importance. She had been raised in a Christian home, where she came to salvation through a relationship with Jesus in her elementary years and desired the same for all her family. She was always active at Mission Hills Church. She personally tried to know all the pastors and people in leadership over the years and was an active participant in the church conference, Converge Worldwide. Mardell was a reliable participant in her Sunday School class and actively prayed for everyone she knew, proving to be a prayer warrior to many. You could count on her to be at any church event, often as a volunteer, and she would encourage others to attend with her. Through the years she was an Awana volunteer, regular nursery volunteer, and was on the Missions Board and Preschool Board at Mission Hills Church among many other behind-the-scenes voluntary roles.
Of the many hats she wore, she was, perhaps most importantly, a devoted mom and grandma, always willing to give her time and energy. Not only did she raise her own three children, but she also played an active role in caring for three of her grandchildren, Talia, Heidi, and Liam while their parents worked. A quote found on her desk stated, “Being a parent is the most important job, but being a grandparent is the most fun!” Countless books were read on her lap, innumerable treats were given in her kitchen (not to mention the batches upon batches of cinnamon rolls she was always delivering), and infinite hugs were at the ready. Mardell was always motivated by making sure people were fed. Whether it be her family or her kids’ friends, always having a plate at the table if they needed a meal, or making sure grandkids were never leaving her presence hungry, she desired to keep people nourished. She was also always ready to lend a helping hand; whether it was helping a grandchild to memorize Awana verses, helping with grandkids' school projects, babysitting grandchildren or grand dogs, running an errand,
delivering meals, attending as many of her grandkids' athletic events or school programs as possible, or sitting with a listening ear. She always was available for what mattered most, her family.
Mardell learned through life to treasure all the moments she had with family and friends, in part because she recognized how fragile life can be. Mardell had many health issues that people would not often know about as she never wanted it to be of anyone else’s concern or burden. She survived back disc surgeries and nerve damage issues, survived breast cancer and kidney cancer, and dealt with diabetes later in life. During times of sickness and times of holding a grandbaby is when God taught her the skills to become a prayer warrior for others.
Mardell deeply valued the friendships in her life. She talked weekly with her sisters (by birth, marriage, and her closest spiritual sisters). She remained close with friends from college throughout her entire life and met regularly with her friends from church. She maintained contact with her cousins through biennial reunions and other correspondence. If you ever needed an update on someone’s life, you could just ask Mardell. She always tried to stay up with everyone and everything that was going on. She would befriend the mailman, the neighbors, and anyone she came across. But none of these was as important as staying in contact with her grandchildren. She even learned to communicate through text emojis with her grandkids. She enjoyed a good laugh and became known for telling corny jokes. She enjoyed traveling and was always looking for something new to go do with a loved one, especially if it included getting a “bite to eat”.
Mardell is preceded in death by her husband, Richard, her three siblings and daughter-in law. She is survived by her three children, Janelle (Ron) Carmickle, Mark Peterson, and Karl (Christy) Peterson, her ten grandchildren, Talia (Ryan), Kendra, Rebekkah (David), Ronnie, Heidi, Reagan (Jadon), Liam, Isaac, Lincoln, and Gideon, and her three great-grandchildren, Evan, Daniel, and Baby Girl Bowles (due in November). A celebration of Mardell’s life will take place on Monday, November 13, 2023, at 2 p.m. at Mission Hills Church in Littleton, Colorado. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Mardell Peterson-Littleton-CO (samaritanspurse.org).