Frances Pederson, the last true pioneering spirit of a long-standing pioneering Gunnison County family, died on Monday, Sept.

16. Invoking her lifelong strong will, at 103 and on the 37th anniversary of her husband’s passing, she declared her life complete and initiated her own demise.

Following in the historic footsteps of the Axtells and Spencers, Frances forged a purposeful and respected career as a teacher, administrative assistant and dedicated mother to her own children and countless young college athletes who played football and basketball for her latehusband Pete Pederson. Among other notable accomplishments, she was the first female economics graduate from Western State College. While residing in Gunnison, she worked at Western for Ralph Porter and at Gunnison High School for John Towles.

She moved with her family in 1960 to San Luis Obispo, Calif., where she taught middle school English and physical education until her retirement. She also was an early activist for union representation and improved pay for educators.

Although she lived away from all public view, her respected perseverance and indomitable spirit, good graces, and great human dignity will remain a wonderful tribute to her pioneer heritage. Her understated determination and dedication to graciously serving everyone around her, from family to students to community and friends, left the world a better place by duty, deeds and example.

Preceded in death by her husband, the late Willard “Pete” Pederson, Frances is survived by her three boys, Pete of Thousand Oaks, Calif., Perry of Halcyon, Calif., and Tom of Grand Junction, Colo.; five grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.