Silverton subdivision named after longtime NWV Habitat supporter and his family

April 25, 2022--Dr. Virgil Peters embodies Habitat’s mission, so it’s fitting that our largest housing project to date is named after him and his family. The 89-year-old Mt. Angel resident was one of the affiliate’s first board members. He didn’t know much about the organization when he agreed to join more three decades ago, but he was immediately drawn to its faith-based mission. 

Seeking to put God’s love into action, Habitat for Humanity brings people together to build homes, communities, and hope. 

“The only way we have to honor God is what we do for other people,” Virgil said.

Of all the home builds over the years, one stands out in Virgil’s mind. He remembers working on a Mt. Angel home for a single mother and her daughter. The whole Peters family helped with this home build. 

“Luda (the single mother) was so kind and so helpful,” he said. “And there was a real team spirit working on that house.”

Virgil did a lot of the landscaping for Habitat homes early on, and helped with financial literacy classes to prepare partner families for homeownership. He served 12 years on the Board of Directors and encouraged his son, Dr. Tim Peters, to join as well. 

“It’s interesting how you follow in your father's footsteps,” Tim said. “Dad set a good example of serving in the community as a doctor, serving with Habitat, and serving with the church. As a kid, you have two choices, you can rebel or you can say this is good and I want to be a part of it. My belief system is the same as my father’s. Our job is to love and care for the people in need. We do what God is calling us to do, and we do the best that we can.”

Tim went on to serve as Board President, helped build several local Habitat homes, and took his wife and children to Guatemala to participate in an International Habitat build. He's currently serving on the Construction Safety Committee.

Now the affiliate is working on its largest project to date, an 18-home planned development in Silverton, recently named Peters’ Garden. 

When Executive Director Kari Johnsen first approached the Peters family about putting their name on the project, they were reluctant, not wanting to draw attention to themselves. 

“If we can encourage others to participate, that’s great, but we’re not here to promote ourselves,” Virgil said.

Kari explained that it was a way to recognize the family’s longtime support of the organization, but also a way to honor Virgil’s wife of 64 years, Jennie, who passed away last fall. 

“My wife loved her flowers and her garden,” he said. “Her biggest joy was to take a plant that was barely surviving, and make it grow. She loved tulips. I think there are tulips in heaven for her.”

Farming and gardening runs in the family. Both Virgil and Jennie grew up on farms in the Midwest. 

Tim recalls one of the last things Jennie did was plant a bunch of tulip bulbs at his house without his knowledge. When the flowers bloomed the following spring, Tim and his wife, Sarah, were surprised and delighted. 

Peters’ Garden, that fits, said Tim. 

“Mom was a gardener,” he said. “She saw the potential in every plant. She would take the ones with two sprigs and would make it grow.”

Jennie’s favorite Bible hymn was “In the Garden,” another reason the name was chosen. The planned development will have a community green space and fruit trees.

“This is the first time we’ve done anything this big, so it’s honor to have our family’s name on it.” Tim said.

It’s the legacy that we leave behind, Virgil said. A friend sent this quote after Jennie died:

“Always remember that the life of one we love is never lost. Its influence goes on through all the lives it ever touched.” 

So many people were blessed by my wife, he said. 

Virgil and Jennie were married for 64 years. 

Virgil participates in a groundbreaking ceremony for the Molodyh family home build.