Elaine Elizabeth Burnett was born Oct. 20, 1926, to Omer A. and Cora M. (Schweikert) Burnett, in Bellevue, Iowa. An only child, she started first grade at the age of 4 in her hometown grade school in Green Island, Iowa. Her high school education was spent in Bellevue boarding with family friends during those years. She began college at the University of Dubuque at age 16, completing a two-year degree. While working for Montgomery Ward in Dubuque, she was introduced to Melvin A. "Pete" Peters through mutual friends. Although not immediately impressed with this man who was nearly 12 years older, after a few dates, his unique charm won her over. Pete and Elaine were married July 3, 1947, in the Green Island Congregational Church. Elaine's parents, Omer and Cora, enjoyed the honor of being the first couple married in the same church on June 21, 1916.
Not only did Elaine become a wife, but also a stepmother to Pete's 7-year-old daughter, Janet. Pete and Elaine continued living and working in Dubuque, and after nearly five years of marriage, Elaine gave birth to their daughter, Ellen. At that time, Elaine devoted herself to being a full-time wife and mother. Following the death of her mother, Janet, then 14, came to live with them until she completed her education and married in 1959.
In 1960, after a career change, Pete moved his wife and daughter to Cedar Rapids, where, as a building contractor and real estate broker, he started Crest Realty Building Co. Elaine, a co-owner and officer of the company, not only handled "the books," but also drew plans and designed several homes they built. They had many good friends and neighbors in both Dubuque and Cedar Rapids, maintaining treasured relationships through the years.
After Pete retired and closed the building company, Elaine worked part time in the office for Younkers at Lindale Mall from 1980 to 1986. She also regularly helped care for her two grandchildren, Hannah and Peter Ilten.
After years of health issues, Pete died July 24, 1989. Elaine remained in their home in Green Valley another three years and then moved to a townhome in the Village at Beaver Creek, where she lived until 2009, when she relocated to the Meth-Wick Community.
A card player all her life, she excelled at the game of bridge and belonged to several groups, continuing to play until 2014. Elaine loved to travel. She and Pete visited Janet and her family when they lived in Denver, Colo., Bainbridge Island, Wash., and Honolulu, Hawaii. Ellen and Elaine also visited Janet when she moved to Phoenix. Several summer vacations were enjoyed at Cedar Grove in Door County with Ellen's family. She took advantage of every opportunity to travel with Ellen, cruising the Caribbean, touring Spain and New York City and meeting family and friends with whom Ellen had lived during high school and college. In January 2005, she visited England, Scotland and Ireland with Ellen, Hannah and Peter, while Peter studied in Nottingham during college.
Throughout her life she was dedicated to her daughter and her family, never missing a significant event in their lives. She attended every graduation of Hannah's and Peter's from preschool through graduate school and traveling to and participating in their weddings in 2011 and 2012, respectively. Most recently she was delighted to become a great-grandmother to Cora Robertson, Harriet Ilten, Quinn Robertson and Joseph Ilten.
A slow-growing brain tumor was discovered in 2005. The option of surgery at her age was ruled out and she continued to have it monitored, living with it until her death, to which we are certain, was a contributing factor.
Elaine was a treasured and appreciative daughter, loyal and steadfast wife, a mother and grandmother who loved her family unconditionally. She was always the eternal optimist, reminding us that things would be "better in the morning." She was right, they always were. Those left to honor her memory are daughter, Ellen (David) Dennis of Cedar Rapids; grandchildren, Hannah (Will) Robertson of Brooklyn, N.Y., and Peter (Katie) Ilten of Edina, Minn., great-granddaughters, Cora and Quinn Robertson and Harriet Ilten; great-grandson, Joseph Ilten; stepdaughter, Janet McMillan of Mesa, Ariz.; stepgranddaughter, Chris Cooley of Clinton, Wash.; stepgrandsons, Steve (Judy) McMillan of Columbus, Ohio, Mark (Chrystal) McMillan of Maple Grove, Minn.; and five stepgreat-grandchildren, Melanie and Lauren McMillan, Jimmy Cooley and Mina and Clara McMillan.
Elaine died Sunday, Sept. 25, 2016, at The Woodlands of The Meth-Wick Community. Visitation will be from 4 to 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 30, at Cedar Memorial Park Funeral Home. The funeral service will take place Saturday, Oct. 1, at St. Stephen's Lutheran Church, 610 31st St. SE, where she had been a member for over 50 years. The Rev. Dr. Ritva Williams will lead the service, which will begin at 10:30 a.m. Visitation will be available one hour before at 9:30 a.m.
We wish to thank Dr. Melanie Stahlberg and her staff for their care over the years, the staff at The Manor, Arbor Place and The Woodlands of The Meth-Wick Community and Hospice of Mercy. You are all appreciated more than you can imagine.
Memorial contributions in Elaine's name may be made to St. Stephen's Lutheran Church.
Online condolences may be directed to the family at www.cedarmemorial.com under Obituaries.