He fought in WWII and he'll be 100 on August 10th..........Dick Peterson is definitely a man worth remembering. After interviewing him earlier this year, I wrote the following article for my "From the Front Porch" column, in our Taylorsville Post.
He was born in Broadland, SD in August, 1917 and just 4 months later his mother died during the Spanish Flu Epidemic. His father made the decision for his Aunt Clara (his father’s youngest sister) to take him and his two older sisters. The aunt, who later learned she was expecting a baby, decided it would be in the best interest of everyone if she kept his sisters, and he went to live with her sister, Mathilda. On April Fool’s Day in 1919 – when he was almost 8 months old, he went to live with Aunt Tillie and Uncle John who had two grown daughters.
He remembered that he always called her Aunt Tillie – never mom – even though she had taken him in when he was just a baby. Aunt Tillie wasn’t warm and loving, but she and Uncle John provided a good life.
His father remarried and had another family and he saw him only a few times during his growing up years.
Richard “Dick” Peterson will be 100 years old on August 10, 2017. His wife, Phyllis, with whom he’d been married 72 years passed away in December 2013. She had been his high school sweetheart……a Freshman when he’d been a Senior. He graduated and went to Iowa State University but continued to date Phyllis. In his words, “she was the pick of the litter and so was I.”
Dick is busy. He lives alone in a townhouse in Johnston, Iowa where he still drives. He was President of the Men’s Garden Club for 10 years and his yard is immaculate and beautiful, and he’s the one who does the planting and maintenance! The Gazebo in the Garden Clubs of America park was built, in his honor, and has a plaque with his name.
Dick is a wiry little man with a wonderful sense of humor even though he has Macular Degeneration and receives injections in his eyes. His townhouse has a basement and he amazed me with his agility as he hurried down the carpeted stairs. (He arrived at the bottom and I had barely begun my descent.)
I had gone to visit him and to see his WWII “Memorabilia Room” – but I received a tour of his home and saw so much more. In his finished basement, was a very neat room with a work bench and tools. In another room under lights, with timers, were plants that he was “wintering” and awaiting the coming of Spring so he could plant them in his beds. My favorite room held a table with notebooks of Family Data and hundreds of pages, typed by one of his sons, of “Richard’s Ramblings” and his poetry. The walls held family photos…..of him with Aunt Tillie’s family, of his father and his family, and the only photo that he had of his mother.
Dick and Phyllis got married in August, 1940 and in August, 1941 he was “ordered” to active duty at Ft. Leonard Wood, MO. He had received his Commission at Iowa State as a 2nd Lieutenant in the Corps of Engineers Reserve.
Just as we all remember “where we were” when historical events happened, in the world…..Dick remembers that he and Phyllis were in St. Louis, MO at the movies when Pearl Harbor was attacked.
Dick was at Normandy, and on Omaha Beach, and on Utah Beach. I want to know what valiant effort was recognized by the Bronze Medal he received. I want to know more about the WWII Memorabilia Room…..and I hope I’m here to help celebrate number 100….in August!!
Dick Peterson…..a man worth remembering!