John PetersonFebruary 27, 1926 ~ September 16, 2018 (age 92)
John E. Peterson, 92, of Fairview Heights IL, formerly of Lebanon, IL, died Sunday September 16, 2018. John was born on February 27, 1926, the first of six children, to Henry John Peterson and Edith Agnes Peterson nee Mayou in Laona, Wisconsin. Shortly after his birth, the new family moved to rural Bruce, Wisconsin where his father began farming. John attended a one-room schoolhouse, Thornapple School, for his elementary grades and graduated from Bruce High School in May 1944. Determined not to spend his life farming and seeking a larger world experience and more education, he entered the Army Air Corps as an aviation cadet after graduation.
Always interested in learning, John was excited about his training as a gunner/flight engineer on a B-17, the Flying Fortress, and then later, a gunner on the B-29, the Super Fortress. As World War II ended, John decided to remain in military service taking advantage of the educational opportunities it offered. His college education included a degree in History from Texas Tech University, a degree in Meteorology from Texas A&M, and a Masters Degree from Southern Illinois University.
Along with looking for new educational opportunities, John loved new experiences. He did a tour on Adak Island and Fairbanks, Alaska. He was an Air Force ROTC instructor while at Texas Tech University. He was an administrative assistant to the Air Attaché in Tel Aviv, Israel. Other interesting tours of duty included Madrid, Spain and Aviano, Italy.
After 26 years in the Air Force, John retired to explore new careers. A brief stint as a public high school teacher convinced him to explore different options. He was fortunate to find another passion in financial consulting and retired from Smith Barney after 26 years.
John’s love of learning did not end after his second retirement. He became an avid wood turner, taking classes at the Marc Adams School of Woodworking. He especially loved taking classes from Eli Avisera. In addition to taking classes, he taught woodturning classes until the age of 92. He attended the Iowa Summer Writing Festival annually for over twenty years, writing his memoirs and trying his hand at writing fiction and poetry. He also taught Healing Through Writing classes at the Cancer Treatment Center.
John also had a passion for serving. He was an active member of Rotary International for nearly 30 years. He served as president of the Lebanon, Illinois and the Fairview Heights, Illinois Rotary Clubs. He was especially proud of his participation in Rotary’s activities to eradicate polio. He also sponsored several children from other countries so they could receive medical attention in the U.S. as part of a Rotary initiative.
John’s family and friends loved him most of all for his kindness to everyone he met. He loved being around people who could teach him. He had friends that shared his passions. He made lifelong friends with doctors who treated him. When ill, he missed walking at the mall and visiting with his walking friends. He made friends from all over the country and the world. He loved cute nurses and cute waitresses. He never lied, he never pretended to be something he wasn’t. He knew what was right, he knew what was wrong and never wavered in doing what was right. His sense of humor and kindness was with him to the end.
He was preceded in death by his parents, Henry and Edith Peterson; a step-mother, Nellie Peterson; his siblings, Jean Johnson, William Peterson, Marion Krasky, Norma Menicucci, and Richard Peterson; and two nephews, David Johnson and Michael Peterson.
John is survived by his children Melissa (Randy) Nyboer, of Morrison IL, Greg Peterson of Shiloh, IL, Diana (Kevin) Flebeau of Ellington, CT; two special step-sons, Carl (Jayme) Cudworth of Austin Texas, and Jerry Bates of Winatchee, Washington. Also surviving are seven grandchildren, Aaron (Brenna) Nyboer, Ryan Nyboer, Rachel Nyboer, Michelle (Matt) Seitz, Mallory (Jim) Roy, Mitchell Cudworth and Aberdeen Cudworth. He is also survived by 8 great-grandchildren and many nieces and nephews.
Memorials can be made to Rotary Foundation or to Fairview Heights Public Library and will be accepted at the mortuary.
Visitation will be held from 4:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. on Thursday, September 20, 2018 at Kassly Mortuary, Ltd, Fairview Heights, IL.
Memorial services will be held at 1:00 p.m. on Friday, September 21, 2018 at Kassly Mortuary, Ltd. Fairview Heights, IL. Military honors will follow at 2:30 p.m. at Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery, St. Louis, MO.
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