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Lester Earl Peterson
June 19, 1928 - February 20, 2022
Les was born June 19, 1928 in St. Croix Falls, Wisconsin to George L. Peterson
and Lois Luella (Brown) Peterson. Les was the youngest of six children and grew up on a farm. Challenges on the farm made young Les develop a sense of responsibility, adventure and a love and appreciation of animals. He was involved with many duties on the farm including running teams of horses as well as the general farm equipment. Later in his teens he apprenticed and worked with his uncles at Interstate Body Shop in St. Croix Falls, planting the seeds of what would be his career path for the majority of his working life.
Les was a typical high school student being likable and playing on the football
team. He graduated from St. Croix Falls High School in 1946. Shortly thereafter he and a friend decided that they wanted to enlist in the United States Air Force, so they boarded a bus and went to St. Paul, Minnesota and did just that! His time in the service however was short because his father was suffering health issues, so Les had to return home to help run his parent’s farm.
After being back for a time, Les was also able to continue with interests he had
before he left for the service. One in particular was working with his uncles at their body shop. He was able to buy severely wrecked vehicles, repair them, drive them for a time, sell them and do it again. He was able to provide transportation for his family and save money for his future one.
In September 1951, at a local football game, he met a young woman, Marlene
Route, who would become the love of his life. They both knew at once they were meant for each other. On February 17, 1952 they were married at Bethesda Lutheran Church in Sand Lake, Wisconsin. After a honeymoon trip to Arizona and California, the couple established residence in their hometown. Later that year in November their first son, Jeffrey Allan was born. Les, at that time had taken a job with Northern States Power and worked on a tree trimming crew. In September 1954, the couple's second son Jim was born. The now growing family made their first move west, just a short distance, to Wyoming, Minnesota. In 1957, while still in Wyoming, a third child was due. The nearest hospital was back in St. Croix falls, so their third son Paul was born there.
One year later a desire to explore hit the couple pretty hard. They sold their home and furniture in Wyoming, hopped in the car, and moved to Prescott, Arizona. While living at a cousin's house, the couple built a cabin on some land on the outskirts of Prescott. For a time, this was home, but the commute across Mingus Mountain to Cottonwood every day where Les worked didn't leave him much time to be with his family. Shortly thereafter the family moved to Cottonwood, Arizona, enabling Les to have more family time. After renting for a short period the couple bought two small houses on a lot on Mingus Avenue in Cottonwood. As it turns out, one of the houses was made of military gun crates! It seemed to work.
Many friendships were made in those years, friendships that would last a
lifetime. But a need to explore remained, so the family decided to move to Delta,
Colorado in late 1963. Les took a job with the US Forest Service running work crews on Grand Mesa, refurbishing and building campgrounds. After another move up the road to Cedaredge, where Les opened a small body shop called Pete’s Auto Body & Glass. In December, 1964, their fourth child and only daughter, Linnea was born.
On a ridge just outside of Cedaredge, the family's life was good yet challenging. With no running water, indoor toilet or furnace, the family was confronted by a large tree falling on the house and their barn burning down. The family decided to move back to Arizona. First back to Prescott for a year, and then back to Cottonwood. Kind of a repeat!
Les was able to find good work in Cottonwood at the local car dealership. In that time old friendships were rekindled and more new ones were made. Les was always one for a good campout or picnic, weekends were his realm and both he and Marlene made sure the family got out and experienced the outdoors as much as possible. Soon another move was planned, to Colorado. A town they had traveled through before, high desert Cortez. So, in the spring of 1968, the family moved to Cortez where the young family built a house above scenic Totten Reservoir, settled down and put down roots.
For the last 55 years his fascination and appreciation of Montezuma County only
grew stronger. He would always make sure his family came first, being a wonderful
provider, a great teacher, and mentor, but most of all just Dad.
In this place they were to meet with the toughest challenges as well as
the most meaningful successes. The unanticipated loss of their eldest son in death was a huge heartbreak. Their families back home would start to pass. Success and friendships were made, and a business, Peterson’s Body and Frame Shop, was established, that remains to this day.
Our appreciation has been formed and solidified for a man who wandered,
explored, and yes moved a lot! But in all of that, this man never neglected his wife, kids, friends or his home. One would be hard pressed to not believe that Les wasn't aware of one last gift to give, especially to Marlene, in that, three days before he died, they, in the way they could, celebrated their 70th Wedding Anniversary.
Les passed away quietly on Sunday morning February 20, 2022. We will always love you Dad. We will miss you so much. But we know that you are in the best house of all, and in the best hands of all. So long; and we’ll see you down the trail.
Les was preceded in death by his parents, George and Lois Peterson; his son, Jeffrey Peterson; his siblings, Charlotte Hansen, Lois Anderson, Allan Peterson, Donald Peterson, and Ruth Anderson. He is survived by his loving wife, Marlene Peterson; his children, Jim Peterson of Cortez, Paul Peterson of Cortez, and Linnea Peterson of Dolores; four grandchildren, Hannah and Noah Peterson, and Sarah and Clare Vass.
No services are planned at this time. Memorial contributions can be made in Les Peterson’s name to Hospice of Montezuma, PO Box 740, Cortez, CO 81321 or https://hospiceofmontezuma.org/giving/ , Cortez Area Animal Shelter, 2791 E. Main St., Cortez, CO 81321, Montezuma Valley Presbyterian Church, 350 S. Washington St., Cortez, CO 81321, or an animal shelter where you live.
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