Remembering Clemmie Peterson Good deeds: Philanthropist gave millions -- and her time -- to local institutions.

September 22, 1996

CLEMENTINE L. Peterson, who died recently at 102, was a remarkable woman. She gave most of her $12 million fortune (accumulated during her marriage to Duane Peterson, one of the founders of the PHH mortgage and vehicle management company) to some 55 Baltimore-area cultural institutions. She also gave her time, serving on the boards of a long list of non-profit and civic organizations, ranging from the Girl Scouts to the city planning commission.

Johns Hopkins University, Center Stage, the Baltimore Choral Arts Society, the Baltimore Opera Company, the Peabody Conservatory, St. John's College and Western Maryland College were just a few of the institutions and groups that Mrs. Peterson, known as Clemmie to her friends, supported with her considerable energy and money.

A Connecticut native, Mrs. Peterson grew up in Iowa, like her husband. After they moved to Baltimore in 1940, she became district director for civil defense mobilization. She soon was active in an impressive number of organizations that dealt with subjects as diverse as adult education and criminal justice. In later years, Mrs. Peterson took great pride in her membership in the early 1950s on city and state panels that dealt with the thorny questions of public transit in Baltimore.

Before her marriage, Mrs. Peterson had given piano lessons. Thereafter, music remained her "first love." She was one of the founders of the Baltimore Choral Arts Society and was still on its board at the time of her death. When Choral Arts performs Mozart's "Requiem" at the Meyerhoff Symphony Hall on Nov. 9, the concert will be dedicated to her memory. She richly deserves that tribute. Clemmie Peterson's civic work should serve as an example and as an inspiration to younger generations of Baltimoreans.

Pub Date: 9/22/96

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