Martha Kanana (Riley) Peterson


Posted: Tuesday, October 23, 2001

Former Seward resident Martha Kanana (Riley) Peterson died Friday, Oct. 19, 2001. She died peacefully in her sleep at home in Anchorage due to complications from strokes and cancer. She was 83.

A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. today at the Seward Chapel on Nash Road. Pastor Paul Pichotta will officiate. As she requested, her ashes be spread over Resurrection Bay.

Mrs. Peterson was born May 5, 1918, in Herendeen Bay, Alaska, to James Riley and Maude Sennamarenna.

After her mother died from tuberculosis, she was raised at the Jessie Lee Home. Her brother Michael also died of tuberculosis. She traveled on the boat "Bear" in 1925 when Jessie Lee was moved from Unalaska to Seward. She rememberedt there was a boys' boat and a girls' boat. She met her husband, Andrew Peterson, at Jessie Lee and they were married in Seward.

During World War II she moved to Dillingham and worked at the Kanakanak Hospital, where she had to stand on a box to cook at the stove. She retired in May of 1983 after working as head housekeeper at the Wesleyan Nursing Home in Seward for 11 years. When she visited afterward, the patients would ask her if she was going to come back to work.

She subsequently lived in Anchorage.

Mrs. Peterson's hobbies included people, playing cards -- especially cribbage -- and bingo. She loved to cook and was famous for her bread and her popcorn balls at Halloween.

"Mom could remember what you talked about the last time she saw you, be it a week or six months. She loved and accepted people where they were at, and if she could help you out, she did," her family said.

Mrs. Peterson was preceded in death by her parents, her brother and her husband.

She is survived by her children Hans Peterson of Seward and Peter and Barbara Peterson of Anchorage.

Donations may be made in her name to a food bank or The Salvation Army.

Arrangements were made by Witzleben Family Funeral Homes and Crematory.

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