Alyce Jean Peterson

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Alyce Jean Peterson

August 08, 1935 - November 22, 2017

Alyce Jean (Smith) Peterson died peacefully at home embraced by her loving family on Nov. 22, 2017. Alyce was kindness, serenity and grace personified. Throughout her 82 years of life, everyone who met her immediately felt her beauty and strength and melted in the warmth of her engaging smile. Even while living with brain cancer, she only thought of others and continued to have a tremendous impact on her world.
Born in London, England, on Aug. 8, 1935 to Edgar Harold Smith, of London, and Nelle Breen, of Holland, Michigan, Alyce lived her first two years with her missionary parents in Nigeria, Africa. Determining it was not safe, Ed and Nelle brought Alyce back to Holland, where she was raised, along with her brother, Paul, by her grandparents, John and Jennie (DePorter) Breen. Alyce graduated from Holland Christian High School in 1953 and then went to Calvin College, where she met Richard Peterson. They entered their 61-year marriage three years later at a service officiated by her father in Holland.
Following training at Blodgett School of Nursing in Grand Rapids, Alyce began a nursing career that spanned decades, specializing in labor and delivery. During her career, she helped bring thousands of babies into the world, many to women with few resources and little prenatal care; she trained new nurses and formed life-lasting relationships with colleagues.
In her 40s Alyce went back to school to earn her bachelor's degree in nursing.
Rich's career in the U.S. Navy as a mathematician and engineer took them across the country, from Hawaii, where first son, Jeffrey Dale, was born, to Annapolis, Maryland, where they lost their second son, Phillip Edgar, as a newborn. In Indiana they were blessed with Valerie Jean, and ultimately they landed in Southern California, where daughter, Nancy Joy, and son, Brian David, joined the family. They raised their family in Sunland, California.
In California Alyce worked at Serra Memorial Hospital and was very involved at Bethel Christian Reformed Church in Sun Valley. Rich and Alyce lent their beautiful voices to several choirs over the years and enjoyed traveling to Hawaii and Europe and over time made countless road trips around the country to visit their children and grandchildren.
After retirement Rich and Alyce designed and built a home in Glen Arbor near lifelong friends and family. There, Alyce was an active member of the Glen Lake Community Reformed Church, the Glen Lake Women's Club and the Glen Lake Library. She loved to be productive, always volunteering and staying busy with reading, handwork and writing letters. Alyce loved to spend time with her family and dear friends, some of whom go back to childhood.
Alyce/Mom/Grandma will be immeasurably missed by her husband, Richard; son, Jeffrey; his wife, Sandy (Sterkenburg) Peterson, and children, Scott and Julia, of Grand Rapids; daughter, Valerie Harkins, her husband, Gordon, and their children, Amy and Declan, of Yorktown Heights, New York; daughter, Nancy Peterson, her husband, Bill Garcia, of Johnson City, Tennessee, and son, Phillip Goldfarb, of Baltimore, Maryland; son, Brian, his wife, Lori (Shimizu) Peterson, and their children, Kyle and Katelyn, of Stevenson Ranch, California; brother-in-law, Glen Peterson, of Grand Rapids; sisters-in-law, Romaine Jesky Smith (wife of the late Paul Smith), Elsie (Stonehouse) Peterson, Nancy (Peterson) Crater, Mary (Burkhalter) Peterson and Mary Ruth Smith; many nieces and nephews; and a loving extended family in England.
A celebration of life service will be held on Dec. 11 at 11 a.m. at the Glen Lake Community Reformed Church, 4902 W. MacFarlane Road, in Glen Arbor. Friends may greet the family one hour prior to the service. A second service will be held in California in early 2018 with the details forthcoming.
Rather than flowers, Alyce and her family would be honored by memorial contributions to the following charities: for nature, The Leelanau Conservancy at; for pregnant women, Elizabeth House at; or for the Nigerian people, Nigeria Crisis Fund at
An online guestbook is available at, where you may share your memories with the family.
Rest now, Alyce Jean, in peace and in the warm arms of your heavenly father and in the hearts of all those who will forever love you and hold you close.
Published on November 29, 2017
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