Ollie Vanita Peters passed away on February 2, 2021 in Bakersfield, California at the age of 86. She was born on January 29, 1935 in Holtville, California to Lewis and Vernie Price and was the youngest of their sixteen children.
Affectionately known by her family as Kiddo, Ollie grew up at the Sunset Labor Camp in Weedpatch, CA where her family worked tirelessly in the fertile soil of Kern County. Like many others who came to California during the Dust Bowl, the Price family was defined by their strength and determination to make a better life for themselves.
Ollie was ambitious and resourceful. She never believed that her future would be spent in the fields. Thanks to a dedicated teacher, at an early age Ollie was made aware that the world was larger than the Sunset Labor Camp. She had many dreams for her life, but none greater than to be a good wife and mother.
In 1953, she married Gene Peters and began their love story, which lasted more than 67 years. Together they raised four children and were blessed with twelve grandchildren and twelve great-grandchildren. Gene and Ollie were devoted parents and while she spent her days caring for her family, Ollie’s ambition never wavered. She knew she had more to give the world and in her middle age, she went to college and became the first person in her family to receive a college degree. She used that degree, along with her nurturing heart to serve children in our community. She advocated for vulnerable children and families through her work at the Kern County District Attorney’s office and later took her passion for children and service to the County of Kern’s Child Welfare Division where she worked in family reunification. Eventually, Ollie became a special needs teacher and shared her unconditional love with children that were often overlooked.
Ollie was a life-long learner, an avid reader, a dedicated crossword puzzler, a world traveler and a lover of gin and tonics. Of all her passions, the one she invested the most time in was culinary exploration. She wasn’t just a good cook; she was an adventurist in the kitchen and was never afraid of intricate and complex recipes. When other women of her generation were making casseroles and Jell-O molds, Ollie was mastering the Art of French Cooking with Julia Child, traveling the globe with the Galloping Gourmet and creating Asian feasts alongside the Yan Can Cook. More than anything she loved serving these meals to her friends and family. Ollie had a special way of taking the love in her heart and infusing it into every meal. Her friends and family have many happy memories spent around her table, experiencing the warmth and comfort of Ollie’s kitchen.
Ollie was the mom that everyone wished they had. Her children’s friends from childhood to this very day, have adopted Ollie as their own. Her love never ran short; she always had an ample supply for anyone who needed the love of a good mother. As she aged, she took comfort in knowing she had raised a tight knit family and she took delight in her grandchildren. They were the light of her life and as far as Ollie was concerned, the most intelligent, beautiful and perfect people God ever created. Ollie was a truly humble woman and never spoke of her many accomplishments, but the one exception was the pride she took in the family she and Gene had built.
Ollie was preceded in death by her husband Gene Peters and will be lovingly remembered by her children, Brad and Liz Peters, Kim Gerdes, Cheryle and Brooke Fleming and Liz and John Neuman, as well as her brother Tom Price. Ollie’s loss will also be felt by the grandchildren and great-grandchildren who adored her, her many close friends and the countless people who had adopted Ollie as their own mother.
The family would like to thank those who lovingly helped them care for Ollie, especially Ghazala Azeem, who was much more than a caregiver and became one of her closest friends.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated in memory of Ollie on February 6, at 1PM at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic Church in Bakersfield. Graveside services will follow at Greenlawn Southwest Cemetery. All services will be outdoors, socially distanced and masks will be required.
In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made in Ollie’s honor to the Angioma Alliance, an organization dear to Ollie, which funds research advancement for the rare disease that affects two of her grandsons. Angioma Alliance, 977 Seminole Trail, Box 367, Charlottesville, VA 22901.
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