Peter Van Orden Sterling ’60

Peter Van Orden Sterling '60Peter Van Orden Sterling passed away at home on Tuesday, Aug. 30, 2016. He was born in Springfield, Massachusetts, to Clarence Irving and Edith Van Orden Sterling. Peter was a graduate of Davidson College (North Carolina) and Georgetown University (D.C.). 

Peter served as chair of the history department at the New Hampton School (New Hampshire); director of education at Colonial Williamsburg (Virginia); executive director of the USS Constitution Museum (Old Ironsides) (Massachusetts); and president and CEO of The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis. Peter consulted around the world, seeking fresh perspectives on ways to bring us all together. 

In his much loved adopted town of Waynesville, Peter continued his life’s work, serving on the Waynesville Historic Preservation Commission and developing the Haywood Snapshot Project, a community based program to preserve and share historical photographs. 

An avid sailor, Peter always relished sitting around a dinner table, a dog at his feet, with dear friends, laughing and debating ideas. These friends buoyed him up during his long battle with Parkinson’s disease. And so together, family, friends and his beloved dog, Farley, saw him home at last to a safe harbor. 

Peter was preceded in death by his parents and elder brother, Clarence Sterling. 

He is survived by his wife, Lorna; daughter, Melissa Sterling; son-in-law, Vincent Ridley; grandchildren, Elana, Caiden and Zane, of San Francisco; daughter, Caroline Sterling; and grandchildren, Sophia, Oliver and Amelia, of Pittsburgh; and his brother, David Sterling, of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania; and so many dear friends to whom we are deeply grateful. 

A celebration of Peter’s life will be held at a future time. The family invites you to contribute to Friends of the Haywood County Animal Shelter, P.O. Box 142, Waynesville, NC 28786, or a charity of your choice in memory of Peter. 

Wells Funeral Homes & Cremation Services of Waynesville is in charge of arrangements. An online memorial register is available at “Obituaries” at

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