Gene C. Peterson, age 87, passed away Sunday, May 23, 2021, at Colfax Health and Rehabilitation Center peacefully while surrounded by family.
He was born Nov. 24, 1933, in Chippewa County, Wis., to Torphin and Thyra (Pingel) Peterson. Gene was a 1952 graduate of New Auburn High School and played basketball well enough to make the All-County team.
Following graduation, Gene started farming east of Sand Creek and married Wilma “Midge” Fehr on Nov. 5, 1952. Farming worked for Gene, twice he was recognized as Chippewa County’s Successful Young Farmer. Looking back Gene said, “other careers might have been more stable financially, but farming offered the best option for raising a family.”
While farming, Gene also worked for the Wisconsin Conservation Department and took night courses in electricity at the technical school in Eau Claire, Wis. He put his electrician skills to work, wiring over 25 new or remodeled homes, and likely worked on almost every house in Sand Creek. He was also the Town of Auburn treasurer for 28 years.
After Midge’s death in 1979, Gene married Bonnie (Lofthus) Smith and their families grew—with Petersons, Pingels, Fehrs, Lofthus and Smiths. In retirement, he and Bonnie enjoyed traveling, and Gene loved his woodshop. He built stools and birdhouses, created benches, repaired chairs and was always eager to try a new woodworking project. He was a lifelong Packer fan, a Brewer fan, enjoyed watching good basketball and he loved eating at McDonald’s.
Gene was an active member of New Hope Lutheran Church in Sand Creek and lived his faith. He generously shared his talents and his time, with skills to fix almost anything. Gene loved people, and people loved Gene—neighbors and friends enjoyed his humor and their conversations.
He is survived by his wife, Bonnie of New Auburn; children, Michael (Natalia) Peterson, of White Bear, Minn., Barbara (Corky) Van Doorn, of Tony Wis., Karen (Ken) Fetterly, of Spring Valley, Minn., Joel (Karen) Smith, of Sand Creek, Wis., Amy Smith, of Washington, D.C.; eight grandchildren, Adam, Tanya, Nicole, Nathan, Jack, Nolan, Ryan, Nicholas; and two great-grandchildren, Torphin and James.
He was preceded in death by his parents, Torphin and Thyra Peterson; first wife, Midge; and sister, Clyo Peterson.
Funeral services will be held at New Hope Lutheran Church on Friday, June 4, 2021, at 2 p.m. with a visitation from 12–2 p.m. at the church before the service. Interment will be in the Zion Cemetery.
In practical Gene fashion, rather than flowers, send memorials to Hope Lutheran Church or a charity of your choice. Olson Funeral Home in Bloomer is assisting the family.