Reid Park Rose Garden

From left to right George Brin, Connie McDonald and little Liam Whitaker in the stroller, are enjoying their morning strolling through the beautiful roses in the Reid Park Rose Garden.

The Reid Park Rose Garden may soon bear the name of Tucson's grande dame of fashion, Cele Peterson. 

Peterson, a Tucson icon who died in 2010, loved roses, says Bill Du Pont, the president of the Colonia Solana Homeowners Association, the neighborhood group spearheading the change. 

Du Pont knew Peterson and members of her family through his own community involvement, including through Friends of Tucson's Birthplace. Peterson lived in the Colonia Solana neighborhood near the end of her life, he adds. 

He submitted an application to Tucson Parks and Recreation in October to rename the rose garden — also known as the Rose Test Garden — after Cele Peterson. 

"She was always a lady of such impeccable taste and grace, it seems that a rose garden is perfect to be named for her," says Margot Garcia, a resident of El Encanto Estates, where Peterson also lived for years.  

Cele Peterson in the 1930s.

As the then-president of the El Encanto Estates Neighborhood Association, Garcia wrote a letter of support for the application. 

The Reid Park Rose Garden has about 100 species of roses and about 650 individual plants, says Anne Andrews, a volunteer with the Friends of the Reid Park Rose Garden, a group that assists with the care of the garden. Starting around Dec. 27, the garden will be closed until April to prepare the roses for their spring bloom. 

"We call it the jewel in the sun," Andrews says of the garden. 

She adds that as far as she knows, the small group of volunteers supports the name change. 

"We're all for it," she says. "She was an icon in Tucson and gave generously. She's part of the community and the rose garden is a community garden." 

Reid Park's Rose Test Garden

Peterson opened a successful shop downtown on Pennington Street that survived the Great Depression, World War II and a fire. The shop attracted plenty of elite customers and carried everything from fancy ball gowns to Peterson's own denim and corduroy clothing line Station Wagon Togs, according to Arizona Daily Star archives

She opened other stores around the city and hosted the short, local radio show "Star of the Day." She helped to found the Children's Museum Tucson, the Arizona Theatre Company, the Tucson Opera Company and Casa de los Niños. She was 101 when she died. 

"I had the honor of knowing Cele Peterson, and she was just one of those people who worked for the community and didn't expect anything back," Du Pont says. 

Cele Peterson in 2006, in her 75th year of selling women's clothing, takes a phone call while working at her store.

The public has the opportunity to comment on the suggestion to rename the rose garden. Comments must be received by Brent Dennis, the director of Tucson Parks and Recreation, by Jan. 4. Go here for more information on that. 

The department's policy for naming parks is that "park properties and amenities shall be named in an effort to honor individuals, organizations, historical events and geographic locations." 

After the period for public comment closes, the Tucson Parks and Recreation Commission will make a recommendation to the mayor and city council on whether to approve the name change. As of Friday morning, there were no letters of opposition received, says Sierra Boyer, the community promotions and marketing manager for Tucson Parks and Recreation.

A tight shot of this beautiful rose called Caribbean.

The mayor and council make the final call. Ward Six Councilman Steve Kozachik also wrote a letter of recommendation for the application, as did three of Peterson's daughters. 

"Our mother loved the park and walked there for years," says daughter Katya Peterson. "She loved being outside and loved beauty. She loved the community. ... And this is a lovely tribute to her. It's such a lovely way to remember her."