Marilyn M. Petersen

December 15, 1930January 6, 2019

Marilyn Petersen December 15, 1930 – January 6, 2019

Marilyn Marjorie Petersen was born December 15, 1930, in Springfield, Illinois to parents Walter and Ruth Petersen. At the end of her first-grade year, the family moved to Indianapolis, Indiana, where she lived and attended school through her high school graduation.

She began playing the piano at age 6 and by age 9 was playing for church services. This became a vital portion of her life having played the piano or organ in some capacity for five churches: Shiloh Baptist Church, Hillandale Baptist Church, Adelphi/Burnt Mills Seventh-day Adventist Church, Silver Spring Seventh-day Adventist Church, and the Spencerville Seventh-day Adventist Church. Throughout her lifetime she was a frequently requested accompanist or organist for soloists, weddings, and funerals. Even at age 88, she was playing at Hillhaven Assisted Living, accompanying the Glee Club as well as playing for the residents.

She graduated from Indiana Academy in 1947. She pursued many majors—pre-nursing, piano, French, and English before finishing with a degree in Education from the University of Maryland. She eventually also completed her Masters in 1970 by attending evening classes and summers. Marilyn taught school for two years in Prince Georges County and then moved to Montgomery Country Public Schools where she taught for 39 years. She taught grades 4, 5, or 6 and worked in only five schools during that entire time. She retired in 1993 from teaching and by 1994 pursued a second career in hospital chaplaincy at Washington Adventist Hospital where she volunteered until 2008.

Ten years ago, an unexpected accident in a grocery store left her wheelchair bound. That did not deter her. She looked for ways to help people through correspondence, music, and phone calls. Marilyn knew how to express interest in people and show she genuinely cared.

She passed to her rest after a brief illness. Marilyn is survived by her daughter, Merle; son-in-law, Tim Poirier; granddaughter Ellen Musselman (John); granddaughter Lisa Froelich (Mark); and great-grandson Connor Musselman, who was the joy of her life.

A visitation will be held at Hines-Rinaldi Funeral Home on January 18, from 4:00-7:00 p.m. with a service on January 19, at 3:00 p.m., at the Spencerville Adventist Church. A reception will follow.

Marilyn loved flowers. If you wish to honor her by sending flowers to the funeral home, they are welcome. After the service the flowers will be distributed to homebound individuals—a ministry she particularly felt important.

If you’d rather make a donation in her memory, you may support the band/music program at either Spencerville Adventist Academy (2502 Spencerville Rd, Spencerville, MD 20868) or Atholton Adventist Academy (6520 Martin Road, Columbia, Maryland 21044) where her granddaughter, Lisa, continues her music legacy (please note on your gift that the donation is in Marilyn Petersen’s memory).


  • Walter A. Petersen, Father
  • Ruth (Diener) Petersen, Mother
  • Merle Poirier, Daughter
  • Tim Poirier, Son-in-law
  • Ellen Musselman, Granddaughter
  • John Musselman, Grandson-in-law
  • Lisa Froelich, Granddaughter
  • Mark Froelich, Grandson-in-law
  • Connor Musselman, Great Grandson


  • Visitation Friday, January 18, 2019
  • Funeral Service Saturday, January 19, 2019

Marilyn M. Petersen

have a memory or condolence to add?

Linda Gordon

January 22, 2019

I am heartbroken to have just this minute learned of Marilyn's death. I first met Marilyn in a professional capacity as she was looking toward retirement and we became friends and had many lovely calls, emails, and visits over the years. I long to rewind the clock to have just one more visit, and to have been at her service. I echo what others have said; her faith, her music, her family, and her beloved kitties, were everything to her. She was as bereft over her Ginger's death as of any human loved one, yet she opened her heart to lost cat souls again and again, knowing heartbreak is the inevitable result. I will truly miss her loving, caring, generous, kind, and faithful soul. And as gentle as those adjectives are, she was also a force of nature and that is something I respected and admired about her. She was strong and brave; she had many losses in her life, yet strove to be philosophical about them and trust in God to guide her life. She never stopped trying to be a better soul. Her family, Merle, Tim, Lisa, Ellen, and their families, are in my mind and heart tonight. I know she will be missed terribly.

Heather Campbell

January 18, 2019

I was blessed to meet dear Marilyn at Silver Spring SDA Church in 1998. Marilyn never ceased to bring little trinkets and toys for my son DJ who was a toddler and had to sit through our choir rehearsals. It was Marilyn who introduced me to Hillandale Baptist Church (HBC) and the Silver Spring SDA Church Choir sang with the HBC choir and vice versa on two occasions. 15 years later it would be Marilyn who recommended me to HBC to be their music director and we had many, many conversations about Church music, worship and life in general. She was my behind-the-scenes advisor on so many things.

Marilyn wrote the most wonderful emails - it was seldom that more than two weeks would go by without an email from her - always asking about my welfare and that of my children and grandchildren and giving me an update on her health and grandchildren. However, it was the gift of her music that I shall remember most. When Marilyn played, your soul was blessed and refreshed. Marilyn's touch on the ivory was like none other - gentle and beautiful, yet masterful and wise - this is exactly who Marilyn was to the core.

I shall miss my dear, sweet friend, but look forward to hearing her play again in that glorious getting up morning!

Gloria Singleton

January 15, 2019

Though our friendship was just a few months at Hillhaven Assisted Living, her spirit of love, care and concern was felt by many of us. She poured out her love for any and all who came within her pathways. That smile was shared at a moment's notice. She lovingly shared her talents and gifts from God with us as well. It was a great pleasure to have her play for me on a few occasions at Hillhaven. Then one day, we just had some fun as she played and I sang. We will always cherish our short time together until that great Second Coming when we can share all the time we want throughout eternity, singing to the glory of God. My life was blessed by this great daughter of Israel. My memories of her will always put a smile on my face. The fondest memory will be of Marilyn coming to visit with my Mom as she lay dying in the nursing home section of Hillhaven. Marilyn's message of love from God our Father was beautifully presented to us at a dire time in our live. She brought us great cheer and assurances from the Father of love.

Sheri Clemmer

January 13, 2019

My memories of Marilyn and Merle go back MANY years to when they began attending the Adelphi Seventh-day Adventist Church. Our families bonded and have been lifelong friends since that time. We enjoyed together many day trips, Fourth of July parades, birthdays, weddings, and Sabbath and holiday meals over the years.

MARILYN played the organ at my wedding and those of my two sisters, as well. She was talented and brought a special spark to everything that she did. I particularly remember the missions stories that she would give at Adelphi Sabbath School. She brought them to life and made one feel as though they were a part of the story.

In addition to the love for music, we shared a love for God's creatures with her particular preference being cats! Her pets always received excellent care and I know were great companionship for her over the years. (Merle—can you name all the kitties that your Mom had?)

MARILYN’s weekly Friday evening post of a soothing hymn on her Facebook account will be missed by many along with her kind words or counsel.

May God grant comfort to all of us who miss her and courage to live our lives ready for Jesus to come. I look forward to seeing her again there.

Sheri Clemmer

Shellie Boccheciamp

January 10, 2019

I have so many memories of Marilyn but my favorite was volunteering with her in the Pastoral Care Department at Washington Adventist Hospital. She always had a kind word, and unconditional love for everyone she met. It has been my pleasure and honor to have called her my friend for the past 22 years.
Merle, Tim, Ellen and Lisa you are all in my prayers may God continue to wrap His arms around you.