Obituaries | August 8, 2014 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

Community Pulse - August 8, 2014


Ruth Peters

Ruth Helen Peters died in her Palo Alto home on July 23 after battling cancer. She was 88. She will be remembered as an educator, world traveler and a loving wife, mother and friend, family members said.

Born in Palo Alto and a 1942 graduate of Palo Alto High School, she worked for the FBI during World War II from 1943 to 1945 before marrying William Kenneth Peters in 1947. They spent nearly 42 years together, teaching in the Palo Alto Unified School District — she at the elementary school level for 27 years following her graduation from San Jose State College in 1962.

She loved music and art as much as she did being a mother, wife and teacher, according to her family. She believed this helped her realize her dream of contributing something special to those around her. She sang in the choir at the First Congregational Church and was a longtime member of Mu Phi Epsilon.

An avid traveler, she was able to share many experiences with her family while touring the country, in addition to taking numerous trips to Europe and Palo Alto's sister city in Oaxaca, Mexico.

One of her most enjoyable moments was meeting actor Tom Selleck on the set of "Magnum, P.I." in Hawaii one summer, her family recalled. A lover of opera and classical music, she also once met opera singer Placido Domingo following one of his performances in San Francisco.

In her later years, she became an avid reader and engaged in the study of genealogy. She battled numerous illnesses and twice overcame strokes to return to normal life. She lived for 52 years in the house that she and her husband had built.

She is survived by her brother, Robert Kruse of Scottsdale, Arizona; her daughter, Kathleen (Bill) Wolf of Milpitas, an artist; her son, Keith (Deborah) Peters of Palo Alto, sports editor and photographer for the Palo Alto Weekly; and her daughter-in-law, Cindy Peters of Redwood City. Her legacy will live on in her six grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. She was predeceased by her parents; her brother, Fred Kruse; her husband, Ken Peters (in 1989); and her son, Brian Peters (in 2014).

A memorial service will be held Friday, Aug. 15, at 11 a.m. at Alta Mesa Memorial Park, 695 Arastradero Road, Palo Alto.

John D. Hancock

John David Hancock, a Palo Alto resident for almost 60 years, died on May 22. He was 89.

He was born in the Los Angeles area in April 25, 1925. After growing up there, he joined the U.S. Navy during WWII, training in Monterey and serving in Hawaii. Upon returning, he studied at Occidental College and the University of Southern California. He later earned master's and doctor of education degrees from Stanford University.

He married his first wife in 1948, and he began teaching mathematics at Mountain View and Capuchino high schools. Later he took a post at California State University Hayward (now CSU East Bay), where he participated in both the math and education departments. He also taught at other institutions and with other groups including Peace Corps trainees during the summers and helped to found the Asilomar Math Conference.

He was politically active during the Vietnam War, when he and his wife started Parents Against the Draft, a group that placed a full-page letter twice in the Washington Post. During 1972 and 1973, he served as executive secretary of the National Council to Repeal the Draft in Washington, D.C.

He married his second wife, Mary, in 2000.

He loved sports and competition, particularly bowling, tennis, table tennis and bridge. During his free time, he enjoyed staying at his home in La Selva Beach in Santa Cruz County, which he dubbed "Aftermath."

He is survived by wife, Mary Gordon of Palo Alto; his children, Mark Hancock of Seattle, Gaye Hancock of Santa Cruz, and Autumn Hancock of Los Altos; brother James (Jean) Hancock; and nieces and nephews. He is also survived by Mary's children, Ruth and Steve Gordon; his step-grandchildren; and step-great-grandchildren.

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations can be made to a Parkinson's charity of the donor's choice. Memorial service inquiries can be made by email to


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