Earl Arthur Peterson, 93, slipped into the arms of Jesus before sunrise on Wednesday, May 6, 2015 at the Alexander Cohen Hospice House in Hughson, CA after a long battle with congestive heart failure.
Earl was born at the Linwood Ave. farm home of his parents on November 5, 1921 in Turlock, CA to Karl Paul Gustafson Peterson and Edith Otilia Peterson, joining brothers Leonard and Alvin. The Petersons were early day melon growers and dairymen. Paul’s parents, Gustav (“Sunshine”) and Hedda Callberg Pettersson, were Swedish immigrants who farmed adjoining property and were charter members of the Swedish Mission Church in Turlock in 1903 (page 83 in Streams of a Thirsty Land). Earl attended Hawthorne Grammar School.
After graduating from Turlock High School in 1940, Earl went on to MJC to obtain Aircraft Sheet Metal Trade School certification. In 1941, he moved to Sacramento to work as a civilian aircraft mechanic and inspector at McClellan. It was at Sacramento Air Depot that he inspected and serviced the B25s that were to be shipped for the April 1942 Doolittle Raid on Japan.
Earl enlisted Sept. 4, 1942, did basic training in Monterey, and attended Airplane and Engine Post Mechanic School back at McClellan Field and later was assigned to Mather and bases in Deming, New Mexico, Douglas, Arizona, Long Beach, and South and North Carolina. He spent the majority of the war as a Crew Chief keeping the B25 planes inspected and maintained for the young pilots being trained for their overseas missions. He was discharged in 1946.
Earl and Alvin returned to work the farm after war and convinced Leonard to purchase their first tractor. Through the rest of the 40’s, 50’s, and early 60’s the three brothers ran a small dairy and raised crops they used for feed for their dairy cows. Earl supplemented his farm income doing cement pipeline work with Gus Carlson.
In 1949 Earl married Laurel Lavinia Rawlings, from Perth, West Australia, and they were blessed with two daughters, Linda Gail and Nola Kay. Laurel died tragically in 1959.
In 1963 Earl married Dorothy Hunter. Earl worked at Roy M. Day’s Feed Mill and later at Farmer’s in Modesto. Dorothy taught at Chatom and Mountain View. When they retired they took the hobby of antique collecting and turned it into a successful business at antique shows in malls in CA and Nevada and Modesto’s Centre Plaza and street fairs and later booths at Monterey’s Wave Street Antiques, Elliott’s Earlier Times, Main Street Antiques, and at Rose Cottage Antiques in Coulterville. They retired from antique dealing in Nov. 2011 when Earl turned 90. Dorothy died in April 2012.
Earl and Dorothy attended New Life Christian Center where they were active in the greeting ministry. Together they enjoyed antiquing and traveling. They were members of Turlock Historical Society and volunteered for the Turlock Historical Museum.
Honoring veterans was important to Earl. Earl was known for the book he compiled, Our Boys, Volumes 1 & 2, which included Turlock Journal clippings of local men and women who served during WWII, which his mother had saved in a scrapbook. From 2001-2011 he participated in Lakewood School’s Veterans Day Assembly. He and Dorothy took his collection of military uniforms and military collectibles to share with Linda’s class. Student Council members and her students wore these uniforms during the assemblies and interviewed the veterans who attended. During the last year of his life, God blessed Earl with Barbara Quinn, who was a loving and encouraging companion to him at Samaritan Village’s Country Manor. Earl and the family also feel blessed with many dear friends and staff members there and through Hospice, who became a wonderful extended family and support system.
Earl deeply cherished his family. He will be remembered for his deep and quiet love and devotion to his family and to the Lord. He is survived by his loving daughter and son-in-love Linda and Ron Wierschem, beloved grandsons Erik (Christina) of Waimea on the Big Island, Scott (Lindsey) of Grover Beach, Lance of Paso Robles, precious great-grandsons Moses & Kaj of Hawaii, and Jude of Grover Beach, dear companion Barbara Quinn, sister-in-law Maude Green of Roseville, cousin Bonita Peterson of Kansas City, Missouri, along with many nieces, nephews, cousins, neighbors, and dear friends like Tom & Peggy Stice of Idaho. Counting him like a grandpa are LeeAnn of England and Emily of Turlock. Preceded in death by his parents, his wives Laurel and Dorothy, his daughter Nola, his brothers Leonard and Alvin, and his cousins.
Visitation will be on Thursday, May 14, from 5 to 8 PM at Turlock Funeral Home, 425 N. Soderquist Rd. Turlock. The Celebration of Life service will be on Friday, May 15 at 10 AM, at The Chapel at Samaritan Village followed by a luncheon reception also at 7700 Fox Rd. Bldg. A. Internment will be private at Turlock Memorial Park.
Donations may be made in Earl’s memory to Turlock Historical Society, 108 S. Center St., Turlock, CA 95380, to New Life Christian Center, 2918 W. Tuolumne Rd. Turlock, CA 95380, and A.C.Hospice House, 2201 Euclid Ave. Hughson, CA 95326.