Marion “Pete” Avery
Nov. 17, 1927-Oct. 10, 2021
Palo Alto, CA
Marion Peterson “Pete” Avery, beloved matriarch, passed away peacefully at age 93 after a brief illness. Pete is remembered for her love of family and friends, keen intellect and wit, natural inquisitiveness, kind and generous spirit, humility, and for her elegance and charm. She was a devoted wife, mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, and a caring friend.
Pete was raised in Oakland by her loving family: Otto and Gladys Peterson; stepmother Florence (after Gladys’ death); and older brothers Robert, Richard and Edward. Many of her lifelong friendships were formed during her early years, later at Anna Head High School in Berkeley, and at UC Berkeley (’49) where she was president of Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority.
Pete met the love of her life, Burt Avery, on a blind date in 1948. Burt was completing his degree at Stanford Business School after returning from U.S Naval service as an underwater demolition specialist in WWII. Their relationship blossomed that summer at Lake Tahoe where each held a summer job. Pete enjoyed waitressing at Glenbrook Inn while Burt built a house at Rubicon Bay. They married one year later in Berkeley and enjoyed 56 years of wedded bliss until Burt’s death in 2005. At first, when they went together to Big Game, Pete sat on the Cal side of the stadium while Burt was on the Stanford side. But they quickly decided they preferred to sit together!
Pete and Burt were a devoted couple and dedicated parents. Early in their marriage they worked nights and weekends together to convert the historic Flood estate horse barn in Atherton into a loving family home where they raised their five sons. The Avery home, fondly known as “The Barn,” was a hub of activity where everyone felt welcome, and there was never a dull moment! Pete infused every day with humor and grace. Always supportive, Pete and Burt took great interest in each of their sons’ pursuits in education, activities and sports. Once the boys were off to school, Pete could be found helping in the classroom, working with the PTA, or volunteering with the Junior League. Pete spent many afternoons shuttling the boys back and forth to swim and water polo team practices. She took the lead organizing family vacations and particularly enjoyed their summer excursions to Glenbrook, a special place for the family dating back to that first summer she shared with Burt. Pete also was extremely supportive of Burt’s career, as he founded Avery Construction in 1960 and developed garden apartments and office buildings on the San Francisco Peninsula.
Pete and Burt were overjoyed to welcome four daughters-in-law into the family, whom they both loved dearly. They adored their 11 grandchildren, and Pete lived long enough to enjoy the company of her three great-grandchildren.
Strong and active supporters of Stanford, Pete and Burt helped the University to upgrade its aquatics facilities and backed groundbreaking immunology research at the School of Medicine. They shared a passion for Early California Art, and they greatly enjoyed dominoes and bridge games with friends.
Pete moved to the Vi, a senior living community next to the Stanford campus, after Burt passed in 2005. She enjoyed connecting with old friends, as well as building many new relationships. Always inquisitive, she attended lectures at the Vi and was an avid reader of fiction and non-fiction. One of her favorite experiences at the Vi was taking a memoir class where she had the opportunity to record personal stories from her entire life. Another great joy for Pete was playing bridge and the deep friendships she developed around the bridge table. And she rarely missed watching the Golden State Warriors, San Francisco Giants, and Stanford football. She particularly loved learning about the players’ personal stories.
Pete will be forever missed by her four surviving sons: Chris, Brian (Tracey), Matt (Kathy) and Regan (Brenda), and by Laurene, her son Bruce’s widow; grandchildren: Alida Avery McIntyre (Shea) and Tom Avery (Anne); Galen Avery Neidlinger (Matt), and Alex (Janine), Amanda, and Meg Avery; Wade, Gavin and Weston Avery; Christian and Palmer Avery; and great-grandchildren: Luca and Crew McIntyre; and Reese Neidlinger. Her beloved brothers and husband Burt predeceased her. Pete and Burt’s cherished son Bruce was taken too young in an automobile accident in 2014.
There will be a private memorial service over the Thanksgiving holiday for immediate family to celebrate Pete’s life. The family appreciates your thoughts and prayers, and would greatly enjoy receiving emails or letters with stories about your connection with Pete.
In lieu of flowers, donations honoring Marion P. Avery may be made to Stanford Medicine “Cancer Discovery Fund”, JDRF (formerly called Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation), or the charity of your choice. The Stanford Medicine “Cancer Discovery Fund” supports various programs including cancer research, patient services, and educational programs within the Cancer Center. Donation checks may be made payable to “Stanford University” with a memo note of “In memory of Marion P. Avery” and mailed to Stanford Medicine, P.O. Box 20466, Stanford, CA 94309-0466. Gifts may also be made online at memorial.stanford.edu. Click on Stanford Medicine, and in the second line please select “The Cancer Discovery Fund”, and in the gift specifications section mark the gift as “In memory of Marion P. Avery.” Donation checks to JDRF may be made payable to “JDRF” with a memo note “In memory of Marion ‘Pete’ Avery” and mailed to JDRF, 1215 4th Avenue, Suite 1100, Seattle, Washington 98161. Or, gifts may be made online at http://www2.jdrf.org/goto/peteavery. The family is grateful for your support.