Kathleen Joanne Panovich Peterson passed away at the age of 69 on May 14, 2021. Kathleen was born to Joanne and Mickey Panovich; her mother was a beloved City of Torrance librarian and her father a celebrated coach and teacher at Gardena High School. Growing up in Torrance with her sisters Linda and Christine, she was active and inspiring, known to make people smile at family gatherings and at her many activities. She attended South High School, where she met Jack Peterson. Their first junior-year date was the prelude to what would become a lifetime of enduring love, respect and affection, punctuated by surprise adventures, which created endearing stories. Kathy cherished and retold those stories often, with a smile, as if they had occurred yesterday.
Kathy attended college at University of California, Santa Barbara, making life-long friendships and achieving a bachelor's degree in music with a minor in mathematics. In the fall of 1973, she moved to Berkeley to embark on her teaching career. During this time, Berkeley became a major touchstone of Jack and Kathy's lives. Kathy lived in Berkeley with her sister Linda for three years, completing her teaching credential at UC Berkeley and teaching math and music at multiple Bay Area schools. Jack was a law student at Cal during the same time. In the summer of 1978, Kathy moved back to the Los Angeles area, and in the spring of 1979, Kathy and Jack were married. They would have three children, Michael, David, and Jenele, who would bring shared joys for years to come.
Kathy's love and passion for music radiated to those around her. As a music major in college (with an emphasis on piano performance), she often performed classical pieces on the piano and sang in college choral groups. Years later, she ensured that all her children learned the piano, and she sang with The Neighborhood Church choir. Kathy made live concerts an important part of her life and was eager to be invited to new music. In 1995, she began teaching music at Montemalaga and Lunada Bay Elementary Schools, helping build the music program over 23 years. Each year she inspired hundreds of kids in her classroom, including many to sing in school choral performances.
The great joy of her life was building her family with Jack. Kathy was a source of strength and warmth not only to her children, who she cherished, but to her broader family, creating a closeness with their siblings and parents, and nephews and nieces. Kathy sought out live music, art, and theater, and took her kids with her, instilling in her family a lifelong love for music. With her family, she reveled in a dramatic win during a game of Hearts, usually at the expense of her kids. She was a sports enthusiast, supporting her kids and nephews through a variety of sports, and competing in tennis leagues for over twenty years, including playing doubles tennis with her sister Christine. As her kids grew, Kathy loved to plan adventures with them and stayed ready to
match their energy. She enjoyed meeting for concerts and shows, taking long mountain hikes and ski trips to Mammoth, learning piano duets, and playing with her grandkids.
Despite health challenges in recent years, Kathy was undeterred. She skied and played tennis, hiked with her kids and sang with her grandson; no matter the scenario she would brighten a room. Kathleen is loved and survived by many, including her husband Jack and their three children (and spouses),
Michael (and Sarah), David (and César), and Jenele (and Andrew); her two
sisters (and spouses) Linda (and Stuart) and Christine (and Christopher); and, her grandchildren Samuel and Liliana.
Published by The Beach Reporter on Jun. 19, 2021.