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Members of the Peters family come from all over the country for annual reunions.
All 39 family members at the Peters 40th family reunion posed for a group photo on July 15.
Oliver Peters Jr. looks at a photo from the first Peters family reunion in 1970.
Cole, 10 and Carson, 12, show off the back of their 40th Peters Reunion shirts Monday afternoon just before dinner.
The oldest family member at the reunion, Oliver Peters Sr. 85 of Silver Spring, Md., holds the youngest - 23-month-old Alexandra Marshman of Germantown, Md.
Oliver Peters jokes with cousin Terri Kraycik as she prepares an enchilada dinner for 39 people on July 15.
Linda, Julie and Laura Peters look at photo albums from previous family reunions.
Oliver Peters sets a timer on the camera and checks the frame just before running back to his spot in the family's group photo.
Friday, July 26, 2013
Several years ago, Oliver Peters Jr. was seeking a place for his family’s annual reunion when he came across Smith Mountain Lake. The area offered enough condo rentals, water activities and warm weather for the nearly 40 Peters family members who planned to attend.
The first year the Peters came to SML was in 2005. The temperature outside hit triple digits, which made family members mad, Peters said. It was a far cry from Maryland’s Deep Creek Lake with its cool water, where previous reunions had been held.
The family didn’t give up on SML though. It has returned every year since.
This year, the clan celebrated its 40th family reunion with three generations — 39 family members — staying for a week in eight condos and splitting the rental cost of a ski boat. Family members came from as far as Alaska, Washington, Florida and Pennsylvania.
“This place is somewhat centrally located for the East Coasters,” Peters said. “The Floridians can make it in a day’s drive.”
Once they arrive, some of the group spend early mornings skiing; others enjoy late nights partying on a pontoon boat. Oliver Peters Sr. said the elders, of which he is one, “insist that we all eat dinner together.”
Each night, the cousins host dinner at one condo with enough food to feed the group. This has become a tradition.
The first reunion was held in 1970 with the five siblings: Harriet Williamson, Ellen Robertson and David, James and Peter Peters Sr.
Robertson since has passed away, and this year, James Peters stayed in California due to health reasons.
T he reunions haven’t been held consecutively — various circumstances caused its cancellation for a couple of years. But the family, with Oliver Peters Jr. as the organizer, starts planning the next one as soon as one ends. This year, the cousins received 31 emails working out details of the reunion from him.
It’s a gathering the family wouldn’t think of missing, he said.
Peters’ daughter, Laura Peters, 25, of Staunton, said that some of her friends think it’s weird how excited she gets about the reunion. It’s something she’s done every year since she was born, she said.
Laura’s Uncle Ted said, “My kids are so excited for weeks and weeks. It’s really kind of fun.”
Part of the fun is because they have distinctive family traditions, such as pickleball tournaments, Peters Reunion Jeopardy and a game guessing TV theme songs. Years ago, they compiled a Peters family cookbook.
This year, the cousins sprung for commemorative 40th anniversary T-shirts that include the top 10 Peters family sayings.
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