Roy M. Peterson, 88, passed away Saturday, April 9, 2011, at the Bethany Good Samaritan Home in Brainerd. He was born Dec. 14, 1922, to Oliver Peterson and Hanna (Paulson) Peterson and was a lifetime resident of Brainerd, Minn.
He graduated in 1942 from Brainerd High School. On Dec. 11, 1942, he entered the Navy and received an honorable discharge on Jan. 26, 1946. During his time in the Navy, he was assigned to the field hospital on the island of Attu for 23 months and then on Samar Island in the Philippines.
He married Shirley Mae Peter on May 31, 1947. They remained wed for 54 years until her death in 2001. They became acquainted in junior high since their lockers were next to each other, and their paths crossed in Washington, D.C., while Shirley was working for the Naval Department, and Roy was on a 40-hour pass from basic-training. Upon returning home, after the war their paths crossed again on Front Street in April of 1946 and a year later they were married.
After his time in the Navy he decided to use the GI Bill to enter an apprenticeship program to become a master bricklayer. Eventually he became foreman of several construction jobs throughout Brainerd and the surrounding communities. He would often run the masonry crew and manage all aspects of the job as it related to the masonry structure of the buildings. Major works included Melrose High School, Melrose, Minn., Wadena High School, Wadena, Minn., Baxter Elementary School, St. Joseph’s Hospital (Brainerd Medical Center), Brainerd Junior College, several churches including a large church in Cloquet, Minn. Roy left his mark throughout the Brainerd community by constructing over 500 basements, numerous garages, fireplaces and chimneys.
His career challenge was a 3-year project as masonry foreman and superintendent responsible for over 4 million masonry units at the Northwest Paper Company. In 1967 he decided to leave construction and work at the Brainerd State Hospital as Masonry Supervisor. Roy retired in 1988.
After retirement Roy and Shirley enjoyed traveling throughout the U.S. They also visited England, Norway and Sweden. On a few occasions the grandchildren fondly remember accompanying their grandparents on trips out west and experiencing the joys of traveling by camper and seeing our many national parks.
Roy grew a garden from the early 50s at 712 G Street until last summer. He was known for his prize tomatoes, amazing pole beans and rhubarb. For several years he made apple wine, which was the favorite Christmas gift of the family. He had a wood conversion stove added to the basement and for many years put up wood which was a tremendous savings at the house.
Roy enjoyed hunting from 1946 to 2009 and had a deer shack in Cass County northwest of Outing, Minn., for over 33 years. His last deer hunt was last year, 2010.
He fished both winter and summer and was famous for his fish fries of walleye, sunfish, bass and perch. He often brought cartons of fish with him whenever he and Shirley traveled to visit family and friends.
Roy and Shirley (dad and mom) played cards once a month for 40 years and the highlight of the years was the famous fish fry in which he would fry over 125 fillets of fish. He caught thousands of fish over the years and people came to visit from all over the country both to the fish house on Mille Lacs Lake or to fish at the cabin on Crow Wing Lake. He was famous for knowing where and when to find fish and seemed to always be successful.
One of Roy’s favorite retirement activities was woodcrafts. He would cut down his own wood, season it and make it into 13 different items such as toaster tongs, spoons, spatulas, spreaders, banana stands and towel spindles. He calculates over 32,000 pieces and at least 7,000 items were given as gifts and have found their way to Africa, Indonesia, Sweden, England, and Washington, D.C.
Roy is survived by his brother, Andy Peterson, of Baxter; sisters, Eleanor Jensen and Gladys Peters, of Brainerd, and Vivian Erickson, of Bird Island, Minn.; his children and their families include Marcia and husband, Allan Perez, of Silver Spring, Md., Kevin and wife, Nancy, of Baxter, Minn.; grandchildren, Jeffrey Perez, Portland, Ore., Jamie Perez, New York City, Katie Peterson, Brainerd, Minn., and Andrew Paulson, Nisswa, Minn.; and great-grandchildren, Noah McClish and Dylan and Ethan Paulson.
Visitation will be Tuesday from 4-7 p.m. at Nelson-Doran Funeral Home in Brainerd. Visitation will resume at 10 a.m. Wednesday at First Lutheran Church in Brainerd with a service at 11 a.m. and a lunch reception in the fellowship hall following the service. Internment will be at Evergreen Cemetery at 1:30 p.m.