Published May 24, 2019

MELROSE — Rosemary E. Peterson, 91, of Melrose, died on Wednesday, May 15, 2019. Rosemary grew up in Everett. She graduated from Everett High School and the University of Massachusetts.

Rosemary was the loving wife of Leonard, who died in 2008, and the devoted mother of eight children: Christine (John Horneff), Mark (Fay Reinhalter), John (Sheila Cody), Daniel (Joy Gould), Julia (Bruce McAllister), Ellen, Andrew (Patricia Dunn), and Joel. She was the proud grandmother of Kathryn, Brian (Christine Kaufmann) and Emily (Michael Coyne); Seana, Kelly and Elizabeth Peterson; Christopher, Alexander, and Eric Peterson; Nell McAllister; Sarah, Megan and Noah Peterson; and great-grandmother of Gavin and Brandon Coyne and Trevor Peterson. She was the daughter of Helene (Harder) and Bonifacio “Benjamin” Giordano, and the sister of William, Benjamin, Clara (Welch) and Lawrence Giordano (Eileen). She was loved by many nieces, nephews, cousins and her “honorary son” Rithy Uong of Lowell.

Rosemary was known for “walking the talk” by living out one’s faith. She embodied intentional parenting, broad community involvement, and acceptance of differences. She was an ardent advocate for successful breastfeeding and child care, meaningful inclusion of those with Down syndrome into community life, hosting international students and others in need of hospitality, and the right-to-life movement.

In addition to raising her children with her husband, Len, she volunteered with La Leche League, supporting area mothers and babies. She later worked in several Boston-area hospitals as one of the first certified lactation consultants in the country. She volunteered at St. Mary’s as a Eucharistic Minister, and, with Len, as a leader in the marriage preparation program. She and Len participated in the Christian Family Movement for decades.

Rosemary was ahead of her time as an excellent and health-conscious cook. She was a life-long learner, loved to read non-fiction, took continuing education courses, and always believed in choosing adventure. Her hobbies included caring for plants, and yarn handicrafts. She walked everywhere, exploring her communities, until shortly before her death. She and Len loved purposeful travel, including extended stints living in Chile (Association for International Development) and in Ecuador (United Nations) in the 1960’s and ‘70’s. They also loved to dance and took ballroom dance lessons well into their 70’s.

A memorial service to celebrate her life will be held at St. Mary’s Church in Melrose on Friday, May 17 at 1 p.m.

In lieu of flowers, the family suggests that donations be made in her name to any of the following organizations: National Down Syndrome Congress at; La Leche League international at; Foster Kids of the Merrimack Valley at; Massachusetts Citizens for Life at; or the Center for Working Families at To send a message of condolence please visit