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Sister Rita Peterson, taught reading in primary school and area colleges

Nov. 22, 1928 – April 27, 2014

Sister Rita Peterson, a sister of St. Mary of Namur who was an adjunct professor at Niagara County Community College in Sanborn for more than 20 years, died Sunday in Absolut of Gasport under the care of hospice. She was 85.

Sister Peterson, formerly called Sister Mary Martin, was born in Buffalo and entered the convent in 1946 following her graduation from Annunciation High School. Her first assignments were teaching children in the primary grades in Kenmore, Binghamton and Lockport.

Eventually, Sister Peterson began training children exclusively in reading and took her talent to Kingstree, S.C. She also taught in the public school system of Macon, Ga. She moved back to Western New York, widened her field and worked with students in Villa Maria College and Niagara University. She was an adjunct professor at NCCC, where she was known for creatively tailoring her courses to meet the needs of individual students.

After she retired, her work with students continued, which led her to start teaching refugees who lived near her residence at Annunciation Convent on Buffalo’s West Side. Over the past five years, a number of Sisters of St. Mary Rwanda came to Buffalo, and she mentored them in the development of their English skills.

Sister Peterson earned a bachelor’s degree in education from Rosary Hill and a master’s degree from Buffalo State College.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be offered at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday in All Saints Parish Oratory, 391 Market St., Lockport.