Remembering Mark Peters

HANCOCK – For Monica Healy, Mark Peters was a solid, steady influence on the Hancock Public Schools Board of Education, as well as a supporter of her effort to become superintendent of the school district.

Peters, who died Monday at home, was a member of the school board for 22 years until he resigned in September because of illness.

Healy, who is Hancock Public Schools superintendent, said although Peters did have to leave the school board for a period because he served on the Hancock City Council and couldn’t be on both boards, he eventually returned.

“He came back,” she said. “This is where his heart was.”

Healy said Peters was on the board in periods of significant changes for the district, including votes for bond issues for a new high school building in 1996, and a new middle school building in 2008, both of which were approved by voters.

She and the other school board members often looked to Peters for advice on issues, Healy said.

“He was our institutional memory,” she said.

Peters was born in 1950 in Detroit. He served in the United States Marines in Vietnam. He was a member of the Detroit Police Department, the Houghton Police Department, the Houghton County Sheriff’s Office and the Michigan State Police.

When Peters resigned in September, he was board president, and Healy said he served in that position other years during his tenure on the board. He also served on each of the board’s various committees during that time.

“He was just always there,” she said.

John Vaara, who preceded Healy as superintendent from 1991 to 2009, said Peters was good to work with as a school board member.

“I worked for him virtually the whole time I was superintendent,” he said. “He was really interested in what was going on in the school district.”

Vaara said as a member of the school board, Peters was very firm about doing what was necessary to help students learn. He was especially strong on whatever helped students read well.

Besides seeing him as a good board member, Vaara said he considered Peters a good friend.

“I enjoyed his company,” he said.

His influence on the board was significant, Vaara said.

“Those people are hard to replace,” he said. “He’ll be missed by the community.”

Healy said Peters was also considerate to parents who had children in the school district.

“He was just an all around nice guy,” she said. “I’m going to miss him.”

Peters is survived by his wife, Mary, sons, Matthew and Mark, and daughter, Marcia.

There will be a visitation from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. Friday at the Gordon G. Barkell Elementary School.