Jeannette Peterson

Jeannette Claire (Agnello) Peterson, 85, of Alfred, passed away peacefully on March 11, 2024 surrounded by her loving children.

She was born in New Britain, Connecticut, on Oct. 27, 1938 to proud parents Nunzio and Evelyn Agnello. In 1952 the family moved from New Britain to Southington where Jeannette graduated from Southington High School in 1956. While growing up, Jeannette loved spending time at the family cottage with her parents and sister MaryAnne on Lake Pocotopaug in East Hampton, Connecticut. It was there in 1953, that Jeannette met Arnold “Pete” Peterson at Walls Dairy Bar where she worked as a teenager. They fell in love and were married three years later. They went on to have four children, Wendy, James, Christopher, and Eric. The family resided in Southington, East Berlin, and Harwinton, Connecticut, and after a brief move to Crystal Lake, Illinois, settled in Saco, Maine, in 1970.

From the time Jeannette learned how to walk, her first love was to dance. At the age of 3 and into her teens, Jeannette studied ballet at Miss Greenland’s School of Ballet in West Hartford, Connecticut. In her teens she would also travel to New York City to take lessons at Radio City Music Hall and the American School of Ballet. She was a natural to many other disciplines of dancing as well, taking classes and later becoming an instructor at the Lillian Shuval School of Dance. Jeannette subsequently opened and ran her own dance studio in Plantsville, Connecticut, in the 1960’s. After moving to Maine, she taught at the Vivian Stacy Dance Studio in Saco, and was a choreographer for the local high school musicals and numerous productions at the Biddeford City Theatre. While in Maine she realized her lifelong dream of dancing professionally when she auditioned and was selected as a member of the dance troop for the Ram Island Dance Company, in Portland. She danced with the company for four years (1970-74). Jeannette was a member of the Dance Masters of America, a guest instructor at the Connecticut Dance Teachers Club, was a member of the Maine Dance Teachers Club, The National Association of Dance and Affiliated Artists, and was also an accomplished yoga instructor.

Jeannette and Pete divorced in 1977, and Jeannette stayed in Saco to raise the family. Once all the children were grown, she moved back to Connecticut, in 1987 to help her sister care for their
parents, Nunzio and Evelyn and to reconnect with family and friends. During those years she vacationed numerous times with her best friend Jan Locke whom she met when the family lived in East Berlin in the early years of her marriage. They remained close until Jan’s passing in 2022, a special friendship that lasted for over 60 years. She was also able to spend more time with her only sibling and “little” sister, MaryAnne, which was very special to her as well. She returned to the arts, working at the Hartford Ballet Company in East Hartford, Connecticut, until 2012 when she moved back to Maine to retire and be closer to her children and their families.

Jeannette especially loved her seven grandchildren, never missing a birthday, holiday, or special occasion. She cherished spending time at her daughter Wendy’s home almost every Sunday, playing games, enjoying a family Sunday dinner, and just being close to the people she loved. She greatly enjoyed trips on the train to Boston where her son James would pick her up at the station and take her to dinner and the ballet. She also enjoyed a wonderful trip with him and his family to Punta Cana. Trips to California to visit son Christopher were also very special. She loved attending his choir performances and spending time with him in the California sun. Jeannette enjoyed playing cribbage regularly on “Chinese Food Night” at her home with her son, Eric. She usually won. She enjoyed a good dirty martini “olive juice on the side please”, and would give you anything and everything she had if she thought you were in need.

Being diagnosed with stage 4 cancer in the spring of 2021 did not slow her down one bit. She fought her disease like she lived her life, with eternal hope, determination, stubborn will, and with fierce devotion to make her time left count. Jeannette was a loving mother and grandmother, an amazing beautiful dancer, a kind soul, and a devoted friend to all who had the pleasure of knowing her.


Jeannette is survived by her daughter Wendy Cotsis and husband James of Biddeford, Maine,
her son James and wife Jan of Billerica, Massachusetts, son Christopher and wife Tina of Anaheim, California, son Eric and wife Ann of Naples, Maine, sister MaryAnne Diamond and husband Michael of Middletown, Connecticut, and grandchildren Matthew, Adam, Angela, Kayla, Zachary, Benjamin, and William, niece Heather Diamond and husband Jason, nephew Aaron Diamond, cousins Linda Reffelt, Kenny Agnello, Paul Meluzzo, Barbara Schiller and Patricia Diorio.

Time to pay respects is set for April 7 from 2 to 4 p.m. at the Hope Memorial Chapel in Biddeford, Maine. A short service for remembrance of Jeannette will follow at 4 p.m. All are welcome. A celebration of life will take place in Connecticut, this summer followed by a private family service where Jeannette’s ashes will be laid to rest with her parents at Lake View Cemetery in East Hampton, Connecticut.

In lieu of flowers donations in Jeannette’s memory may be made to: Hartford Ballet: Donate — Ballet Hartford, National Cancer Society:

Arrangements are by Hope Memorial Chapel, 480 Elm St., Biddeford, ME 04005.

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