November 19, 1955 — March 28, 2018

Lauren Chilson died in Salem on March 28. She was 63.

Lauren was born in Coos Bay, Oregon, the third child of Bert Peterson and Virginia Thompson Peterson. She showed an early talent for music, art and imagination.

Lauren graduated from Central High School in Independence in 1974. She attended Oregon State University for a year, and then joined the staff of a Christian magazine in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.

She returned to the States in about 1978 and settled in Saratoga, California, where she worked for some years with Hewlett-Packard Corp.

She married Don Harrington in 1981; they later divorced.

In the late 1990s, Lauren moved to Portland and enjoyed the nearness of her family, especially her adult cousins.

She married Ben Chilson on Feb. 20, 1999. She spent the last three years of her life in Salem, although she and Ben remained close.

Lauren’s creative spirit stayed with her throughout her life. She painted watercolors, she sculpted miniature figures from clay, she made dolls and dressed them in elaborate costumes, she made jewelry, and she wrote songs and recorded them. She loved karaoke and gained an enthusiastic fan base.

She was a fierce advocate for the disabled, disadvantaged and disrespected. Her life was a model of caring for those who might be labeled “the other.” This concern was amply expressed in her songs, such as this one:

“When there’s love for your neighbor, there is harmony in families,

“There is joy in the houses, conversation in the check-out lines.

“There is hope in the cities, there is calm in the counties,

“There is trust in the nations, there is peace in our time.”

It is hard to find a ray of light in any untimely death. We expected Lauren to live into her 80s, like most of the women in her family. We’d planned to sing many more songs together. We take comfort in knowing that Lauren had been on a brave and determined path of healing these past three years. She made close friends within Salem’s recovery community, and they supported her through difficult times.

Lauren was preceded in death by her parents; and her sister, Melinda.

She is survived by an older sister, Gail Wells; and a younger sister; Leslie Stone. She also leaves two stepchildren and four step-grandchildren; as well as three nieces, three nephews, six grand-nephews; three aunts; and 16 cousins.

Everyone is welcome to attend Lauren’s memorial service, set for 1 p.m. on Saturday, April 14, in the chapel at the Church of the Good Samaritan, 333 NW 35th St., Corvallis. Reception and sharing of memories to follow. If so moved, you may contribute in Lauren’s name to the National Alliance on Mental Illness,

Farnstrom Mortuary is caring for the family.

Memories and condolences may be shared at

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