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Obituary: Ingrid Hvalsoe Petersen

Claremont teacher, artist was 104 years old

Ingrid Hvalsoe Petersen was born in Copenhagen, Denmark, on September 29, 1917. She attended university in Copenhagen, and, during the German occupation she and her family were deeply involved in the Danish resistance movement.

She died peacefully at the Claremont Manor on October 11, at the age of 104.

Following her university education, Ingrid went on to teach elementary and secondary school for more than eight years in Denmark, followed by two years teaching at a reform girls’ school in Leicestershire, England.

While teaching in England she met and became close friends with Eleanor Daly Condit (after whom a Claremont elementary school is named), and in 1956 they traveled together by car across the United States to Eleanor’s home in Claremont, at 649 Marylind Avenue. Eleanor was diagnosed with cancer soon after returning to Claremont. She died in late 1956. Ingrid inherited Eleanor’s house, where she lived until 2014, when she moved to the Claremont Manor.

She enrolled at the Claremont Graduate School and earned her teaching certificate and master’s degrees in education and fine art. Over the next 20 years, starting in 1956, she was employed by the Claremont Unified School District, teaching third and sixth graders at Sycamore Elementary School, where she was famous for teaching young students the game of Danish rounders (a form of kickball); social studies and art at El Roble Intermediate School; and art at Claremont High School. She retired from teaching in 1976.

Much of her life was spent traveling and weaving small, Flemish-style tapestries. Her many sketchbooks include drawings, stories, poetry and observations of life, many of which she translated into fine, small-scale tapestries, knitted and stitched dolls, and fabric art. For decades she was a member, and a past president of the Pomona Valley Art Association. She taught, studied under and worked with many Claremont artists of her time. Following her retirement, she was an avid weaver, pursued sculpture and painting, and taught private tapestry weaving classes.

She was a longtime dedicated member of the Religious Society of Friends (the Claremont Quaker Friends Meeting). She was known for using art projects to connect Meeting members of all ages. She spent two of her sabbatical years studying and teaching at Pendle Hill, Pennsylvania, a Quaker retreat and education center which seeks to transform lives and foster peace with justice in the world.

She is survived by her nephew, Thomas, and niece, Lisbeth, and their children, who live in Denmark; and her godchildren, Signe Heister (Denmark), and Christopher and Sarah Battersby (who grew up in Claremont).

She will be remembered by countless friends and colleagues, the Claremont artist community, and many of her former students at Sycamore Elementary School, El Roble Intermediate School and Claremont High School.

A memorial service will take place at the Claremont Friends Meeting, 727 Harrison Ave., Claremont, at 3 p.m. Sunday, December 5.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in her name and written memorials can be sent to the Claremont Quaker Friends Meeting.

 

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