Mother of U.S. Sen. Gary Peters dies at 96

Melissa Nann Burke
The Detroit News

U.S. Sen. Gary Peters announced the Tuesday death of his mother, Madeleine Vignier Peters of Rochester Hills. She was 96.

“My mother was the cornerstone of our family. Our hearts are shattered at her passing,” Peters said in a statement released by his office Wednesday. “She lived her incredible life to the fullest, devoted herself to her family and spent her life helping everyone she met.”

U.S. Sen. Gary Peters, left, with his mother, Madeleine Vignier Peters, and his son, Gary Jr.

Peters, a Bloomfield Township Democrat in his second term, said his mother grew up in Reims, France, and as a teen fled the invasion of her hometown by German Nazis.

“I will never forget the sheer joy my mother would have when she would tell me about how the Americans freed everyone from Nazi occupation,” he said.

She met Peters’ father, Herb Peters, during the war when he was stationed in her town and serving at the headquarters of Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower after the invasion of Normandy, according to her obituary.

Madeleine later worked as a nurse’s aide after moving to Michigan. Peters often tells the story of how she organized her workplace as an Service Employees International Union steward.

“She taught me the values of hard work — and to always stand up for what is right,” Peters said.

“She was someone I could always turn to. She was full of life and had an infinite amount of love to give to all who knew her. She would knit hundreds of scarves and hats through her church that were donated to the homeless during the winter.”

A visitation is planned for 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday at Pixley Funeral Home in Rochester, and a service will be held at the funeral home at 4 p.m. Friday.

In lieu of flowers, the family has requested donations be made to the C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital’s tribute page at