Stalin’s Daughter Dies After Quiet Last Years in Wisconsin Cottage

Lana Peters is photographed on a rural road outside of Richland Center, Wis., April 13, 2010. Peters, or Svetlana Alliluyeva, was the daughter of the late Soviet dictator Josef Stalin. (Steve Apps/Wisconsin State Journal/AP Photo)

Soviet dictator Josef Stalin’s only remaining child has died in Wisconsin at age 85.

Lana Peters, born Svetlana Stalina and later known as Svetlana Alliluyeva, died of colon cancer on Nov. 22, according to Richland County, Wis., coroner Mary Turner.

Peters had lived on-and-off in the United States since famously defecting from the Soviet Union in 1967. Fourteen years after her father’s death, Peters traveled from the Soviet Union to India, where she unexpectedly arrived at the U.S. embassy and begged for political asylum. She arrived in the United States one month later, settling in Princeton, N.J., and denouncing the Soviet Union.

“I have come here to seek the self-expression that has been denied me for so long in Russia,” she said at the time.

Married four times, Peters had two children in Russia, Josef and Yekaterina, from her first two marriages, and one child, Olga, from her fourth marriage.

In the United States, she married William Wesley Peters, an architect who studied under Frank Lloyd Wright. The two later divorced, and the couple’s daughter, Olga, accompanied her mother back to the Soviet Union in 1984. There, she renounced all of her criticism of the Soviet Union and was granted citizenship once again. But Peters and Olga moved back to the United States two years later.

Peters lived out her final years in Richmond Center, Wis., in a one-bedroom apartment, where she read, sewed, and listened to public radio, according to the Wisconsin State Journal.

She wrote three books during her lifetime, including the best-selling memoir, Twenty Letters to a Friend.

In her later years, Peters avoided public attention.

“Over me my father’s shadow hovers, no matter what I do or say,” she said in a 1983 interview with the Chicago Tribune.

Her son, Joseph, died in 2008. Her daughter Yekaterina is a scientist who lives in Siberia, while her American daughter, Olga, lives in Portland, Ore., under the name Chrese Evans. In 2010, Peters told the Wisconsin State Journal that she enjoyed living in Wisconsin, and talked to her daughter almost every night on the phone.

Evans declined to comment on her mother’s death.

“Please respect my privacy during this sad time,” she said in an email to The Associated Press.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.