Melinda Leigh Peterson died in Salem on Feb. 16. She was 63.
Melinda was born in Coos Bay, the second child of Bert Peterson and Virginia Thompson Peterson. She was a cheerful, dreamy child whose special gifts and needs became evident at an early age. As a little girl she sang songs and made up stories. When she learned to read and write, she wrote poetry.
At 16 she had her first bout with schizophrenia, an illness that would afflict her throughout her life. She received treatment at the Oregon State Hospital, and received her diploma from North Salem High School through a hospital-based program. She was released in about 1972, and with medication, therapy and support from family and friends, she settled into a stable and mostly satisfying life. She lived for several years at the old Y.W.C.A. in Salem, where she would entertain the other guests by playing the piano in the lobby. She lived the last decade of her life in two wonderful adult foster homes in south Salem, cared for by Andrea Ceuta and Cristina Szabo.
Melinda was witty and loved a good pun. In her younger years she played the accordion and typed at least 80 words per minute with high accuracy. She had good taste in music; Elvis Presley was a favorite, as were Kenny Rogers, Madonna and Taylor Swift. She loved to sing along with her CDs, and she knew most of the words. She also loved to sing rounds and folk songs with her sisters, taking the lead in her high, sweet voice. She did not appreciate being bossed around (especially by her sisters), but she would always consider a polite request.
Her soul ran deep. She was acquainted with God and expected her prayers to be answered; mostly they were. Sometimes she chafed at her condition, especially as her physical health declined, but more often she exhibited a serene acceptance. She cultivated gratitude and inspired it in others.
Melinda was preceded in death by her parents. She is survived by her older sister, Gail Wells, and two younger sisters, Lauren Chilson and Leslie Stone; as well as three nieces, three nephews and six grand-nephews. She also leaves three aunties, Anna Peterson, Eunice Peterson and Ann Neuman, and 16 cousins.
Everyone is welcome to attend Melinda’s memorial Eucharist, set for Sunday, March 11 at 3 p.m. in the chapel at the Church of the Good Samaritan, 333 NW 35th St., Corvallis. Reception and sharing of memories to follow. If so moved, you may contribute in Melinda’s name to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, https://www.nami.org.
Farnstrom Mortuary is handling arrangements. For photos, memories and condolences, please visit FarnstromMortuary.com.
Condolences are being received online.
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