Jennifer J. Peterson, 65, of Iowa City, formerly of Des Moines, died at her daughter's home after a short and sudden battle with cancer on Sunday, May 14, 2017. A funeral service will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday, May 20, at First United Methodist Church in Iowa City. Visitation will be held from 4 to 7 p.m. Friday, May 19, at Lensing Funeral & Cremation Service in Iowa City. Burial will be in Oakland Cemetery in Iowa City.
She was born Feb. 17, 1952, in Camden, N.J., a daughter of Robert G. Jensen and Irma Morse Jensen. Raised as one of three daughters of an FBI agent, Jennifer grew up in in Washington, D.C., Birmingham, Ala., and Memphis, Tenn.
Jennifer graduated from the University of Memphis with degrees in special education and art. She later gained a master's degree from Drake University in counseling. Jennifer moved to Des Moines to raise her two children, Erin and Blake. She lived in Des Moines until 2016, when she moved to Iowa City to spend more time with her granddaughters during her retirement.
Jennifer taught special education at Ruby Van Meter School in Des Moines for over 20 years. She first started teaching at Ruby Van Meter while pregnant with Erin and then returned after Blake entered school. Jennifer loved teaching and was a talented special education teacher. Jennifer was devoted to her students and always sought to help her students be successful in life even with the challenges they faced. Jennifer strived to make her students independent, something she also stressed to her children and granddaughters.
Jennifer was an avid gardener, baker, a lover of crafts and, before arthritis impeded her, an excellent golfer. Jennifer was an active member of DMARSPA and so much enjoyed those get-togethers and the monthly coffees with retired Ruby Van Meter teachers, she made sure to get back to Des Moines for these gatherings. Jennifer loved her dogs, Pepper, Maggie and Priscilla. But, most of all, Jennifer loved her granddaughters and enjoyed spending time with them, walking, playing cards, sharing a meal and baking. Jennifer also used her sewing skills to make intricate Halloween costumes, matching outfits and super heroine capes for her granddaughters.
Jennifer is survived by her daughter, Erin (Christopher) Nathan, Iowa City; and her son, Blake (Zoe Phillips) Peterson, Portland, Ore.; her granddaughters, Alexandra Rose Nathan and Paulina Grace Nathan, Iowa City; her sister, Elizabeth (Jim) Hargrove, Port Orange, Fla.; her nephews, Robert (Paige) Castellow and their children, Will and Grant, Mount Pleasant, S.C.; and Andy (Jessie Wiens) Dabbs, Nashville, Tenn.; and her niece, Jackie Castellow and her children, Katie and Gunnar, Marietta, Ga.
Jennifer was preceded in death by her parents, Robert and Irma Jensen; her sister, Emiline Dabbs; and her nephew, Kevin Castellow.
Memorials may be made to the Jennifer Peterson Memorial Fund. Online condolences may be left for the family at www.lensingfuneral.com .