Obituary: Reverend Courtney “Corky” Erland Peterson
Grandfather, United Church of Christ minister, counselor, traveler
Reverend Courtney Erland Peterson died of natural causes at 89 years of age in Portland, Oregon on December 26, 2021. He lived a full, rich, and wonderful life.
Courtney “Corky” was born May 6, 1932, at Stanford Hospital in Stanford, Connecticut.
He lived most of his childhood years in New Britain, Connecticut, and graduated from New Britain High School in 1951. He played football in high school and was very involved in the Boy Scouts, achieving the elite Eagle Scout status.
In 1951 to 1952, he attended prep school at Hebron Academy in Maine, where he also played football. He attended Yale University with a football scholarship from 1952 to 1955, where he graduated with a BA in English. At Yale, he was a defensive lineman, sang in the glee club, participated in the ski club, and was a member of the Beta Theta Pi fraternity. He also had the great honor of being chosen to go on a special trip to Europe, Egypt, Israel and Africa with The American Students for International Understanding.
He spent time skiing in Stowe, Vermont as a member of the ski patrol, where he met Barbara Burnett Mallory. They married on June 6, 1956, in Manhasset, Long Island, in New York, enjoyed 23 happy years together, and had three children.
He worked for Proctor and Gamble Corporation briefly after college, and then from 1956 to 1960 attended Andover Newton Theological School in Newton Center, Massachusetts. He lived with Barbara and their newborn son, Christopher, born October 1960, on Beacon Hill in Boston during this period.
Also in 1960, he was ordained as a minister in the United Church of Christ. From 1960 to 1964 he was a minister at Old South Church in Boston. His first daughter, Jennifer, was born in Boston in September 1962. He then served as Minister of Grace United Church in Farmington, Connecticut from 1965 to 1967, where second daughter Erica was born in June 1965.
In 1967 the family drove across the country with two cars and their boat named “The Ladies Three.” They first settled in Pomona, where he became chaplain supervisor at Lanterman State Hospital. In 1968, the family moved into a home in Claremont, where they lived for many years, long after their children were grown.
At Lanterman, later known as Lanterman Developmental Center before closing in 2014, he ran training programs for clergymen of all denominations in counseling skills. He also led weekly fun, creative, and uplifting Sunday services with the developmentally disabled on the 309-acre campus, and later became a supervisor for the Association of Clinical Pastoral Educators. He ran the programs at Lanterman until the late 1980s.
Family was very important to him. They went on many international vacations, including to Russia, Mexico, France, Spain, Portugal and Morocco, as well as a variety of ski trips. They spent a lot of time in their vacation house on the Rio Hardy in Baja, California. He enjoyed the humorous nickname “el barbon” from the locals in Baja, meaning “the beard.” He enjoyed many home improvement projects, and wanted to have family dinners together every night. “He knew people everywhere he went, and people always really liked him,” his family shared. “He had a joke for just about any subject!”
He completed his doctorate degree in 1972, and became licensed as a marriage, family, and child counselor. During this period, he continued involvement in Claremont United Church of Christ on Yale Avenue. He was a local volunteer for the House of Ruth as well.
During the mid-1970s he and his wife bought and renovated a beautiful Indian Hill Blvd. Craftsman and created Greenleaves Associates Counseling Center. While running the counseling center, the couple also organized weekend events called the “carnival of life” at Pilgrim Pines Camp in Yucaipa, California. They continued counseling there until the late 1980s.
After he retired from counseling, he and his second wife, Genelle, opened International Glass and Bead Company on Yale Ave. and First St., in the Claremont Village. The store later moved to the Claremont Packing House. They ran this store together from the late 1980s until after 2010. They moved to Portland, Oregon in 2018, where they were very involved with ceramics and had their own studio. He handmade many wonderful pots and other items that he loved to give to his children and grandchildren. During his final years he enjoyed fishing and trips in his motor home around the country.
He is survived by his children Christopher, Jennifer, and Erica Peterson; grandchildren Max Catozzi, Jackson Catozzi and Danielle Dornan; younger sister Barbara Wood; and wife Genelle Peterson.
His family shared this remembrance: “Courtney Peterson, we love you, and may the echoes of your love and your laughter reverberate through the world forever.”