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Elizabeth Barclay Peterjohn passed away on Sunday, January 9th at the age of 84. She was a beloved wife, sister, mother, grandmother, teacher and friend. Elspeth was born June 26th, 1937 in Pittsburgh, PA, the daughter of John and Christina Barclay. She graduated from Wilkinsburg High School in 1955, and went on to study at Monmouth College in Illinois where she was a talented student majoring in English, and a member of the college’s choir.
After graduating in 1959, she moved to Cleveland, OH to begin her lifelong teaching career at Shaker Heights High School. There she met her husband of 58 years, Dick Peterjohn. Elspeth was a true beauty, and Dick loved recounting to their grandchildren how he had been struck when he first spotted her through the window of her classroom.
They had two children in short order and Elspeth stepped away from teaching full-time to raise her young family. As a devoted educator, she continued teaching in some capacity,always, instructing evening classes at the Cleveland Community College, substituting and tutoring in local schools, and eventually returning to a full-time role. Elspeth was an avid reader who shared her love of great books with everyone she encountered, particularly her students at Orange and Beaumont High School. She was passionate about helping her students pick just the right word in their argumentative essays.
Elspeth retired in 1996 and turned her energy to being a full-time Grammy. She found immense joy in this role and was nothing short of a hero to her seven grandchildren. She shared with them her enduring love of books and always took an interest in what they were reading. She invented a beloved genre of bedtime story featuring mermaids, sang lullabies, designed and sewed Halloween costumes, and gave the warmest hugs. She travelled to countless hockey rinks, school auditoriums and playing fields to support her grandchildren, and found special time with each of them during the many joyous family vacations and gatherings she sponsored. An ever faithful cheerleader, she was active in calling and writing as they grew up and pursued travel and education around the world. Though she loved them all beyond measure, each grandchild could swear they were her favorite!
She was deeply engaged with her community as a member and volunteer at Forest Hill Presbyterian Church, serving over the years as a youth group leader, Sunday school teacher, Deacon, food pantry volunteer, office volunteer and member of the choir. A lifelong learner, Elspeth loved world travels, book club, weekly trips to Bertram Woods Library, and taking adult education classes through her home church, as well as other spiritual communities.
Elspeth was warm and kind to all those who knew her. She believed joy and wonder could be found in the pages of a good book and in the beauty of God’s earth. She shared this sensibility with her dearest friends, her countless students and her loving family. She was known for her excellent hugs, her delicious baked treats, her sharp mind and her impressive imagination.
Today, her family mourns her loss but celebrates the love and joy she embraced each day of her life. Peterjohn was predeceased by her husband Dick. She is survived by her children and in-laws: David and Susanne Peterjohn and Kristen and Joe Brown; and her grandchildren: Katherine Brown, Elizabeth Brown, Jack Brown, Joe Brown, Laura Peterjohn, Allie Peterjohn, and Maggie Peterjohn; and her brother John Barclay and his family. Our family gives great thanks to the many caretakers with Ohio Living Home Health and Hospice, Breckenridge Village, and Visiting Angels.
Plans for a memorial service have not been finalized. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in Elspeth’s memory to The Yellow House Community, 29 Seminary St. Middlebury, VT 05753 https://yellowhousecommunity.com/yellow-house-VT-support/ or to the Food Pantry at Forest Hill Presbyterian Church 3031 Monticello Blvd., Cleveland Heights, OH 44118.
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