Traverse City Record-Eagle


June 14, 2008

Op-Ed: Peterson paved the way

Attention, women of northern Michigan! A friend of yours passed away last week. You may never have known her, but she had your interests at heart.

Elly Peterson, former Michigan Republican state chairman and co-chair of the Republican National Committee, used the power of her personality, her enormous drive and the best sense of humor I've ever encountered to smooth the path for you.

She was a human comet, always reaching upward, always driving forward, not just for women, but she felt a kinship for them. She was called "Mother" by whites, blacks, reds and yellows because she was the loving, driving force in all of their lives.

She grew up on Main Street in New Berlin, Ill., daughter of a country doctor. Her warmest memories included riding with her father via horse and buggy, making house calls. Then there was Elly as a tot in overalls, playing so vigorously that she was always covered in mud. One day she was making chalk drawings on the sidewalk when a woman asked where Dr. McMillan lived, and Elly pointed to the house, adding proudly that she was his daughter. The woman huffed, "Oh, no, I don't think the doctor would have a daughter as dirty as you!"

On a trip to Washington in 1943, she strolled into a Red Cross headquarters and became so engrossed in the work that Christmas Day found her aboard the Queen Mary, bound for months of duty tending the wounded on the war's bloodiest fronts.

Her political career began as a volunteer in my home county where she and her husband moved after the war. When we met, I, about 20 years her junior, knew zilch about politics, but she banged her infectious message at me as she did to thousands of others over the years, like the Pied Piper, spreading her dream of a strong, winning GOP hospitable to women and minorities.

Text Only

Opinion Poll
AP Video
13 Struck by Lightning on Calif. Beach Baseball Hall of Famers Inducted Israel, Hamas Trade Fire Despite Truce in Gaza Italy's Nibali Set to Win First Tour De France Raw: Shipwrecked Concordia Completes Last Voyage Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge From Nest Raw: Massive Dust Storm Covers Phoenix 12-hour Cease-fire in Gaza Fighting Begins Raw: Bolivian Dancers Attempt to Break Record Raw: Israel, Palestine Supporters Rally in US Raw: Air Algerie Flight 5017 Wreckage Virginia Governor Tours Tornado Aftermath Judge Faces Heat Over Offer to Help Migrant Kids Kangaroo Goes Missing in Oklahoma More M17 Bodies Return, Sanctions on Russia Grow Raw: Deadly Tornado Hits Virginia Campground Ohio State Marching Band Chief Fired After Probe Raw: Big Rig Stuck in Illinois Swamp