Frank Peterson

FORT WAYNE, Ind. – Frank W. Peterson, 88, of Fort Wayne, and former lifetime resident of Iron Mountain, went home to the loving arms of God on Saturday, May 25, 2013, at The Hearth at Sycamore Village in Fort Wayne.

Friends and family are invited to attend a hometown memorial service celebrating his life at Trinity United Methodist Church in Iron Mountain on Saturday at 2 p.m., with visitation from 1 p.m. until the time of the service.

Frank was born Dec. 8, 1924, to Marguerite and Rudolph Peterson in Demmon, Mich. The family soon moved to Iron Mountain, where Frank resided most of his life. He attended Iron Mountain schools and was given an early graduation his senior year, enabling him to enlist in the Army Air Corps during World War II.

While in the Air Corps, Frank earned the rank of staff sargent and served as an aerial engineer gunner, flying 37 missions on B-17 and B-24 aircraft. His plane and crew were shot down behind enemy lines over Poland on Dec. 18, 1944, parachuting just over the Russian line. He was reported missing in action for more than 30 days and was awarded a Purple Heart for his service. He was honorably discharged on Aug. 25, 1945.

On Oct. 31, 1948, Frank met his love, Mary Stridde at a Halloween party at the Pine Mountain Lodge in Iron Mountain. They were married the following June 24, 1949, and resided in Marquette while Frank earned his bachelor’s degree in business on the GI Bill. Later, they lived in Quinnesec for seven years before moving to Iron Mountain, where they resided on West B Street for many years and were well-known for their incredible garden and hospitable home.

Together, Frank and Mary owned and operated The Women’s Fashion Shop in Iron Mountain. Later, Frank worked for the state of Michigan Department of Social Services for many years, until his retirement. As a retirement job, Frank drove the Dickinson County Library bookmobile and became well-known to children throughout the county as he drove through neighborhoods with the special musical horn he installed to let them know he was nearby.

The Bookmobile and musical horn were a favorite in many area holiday parades. Frank was a member of the Golden K and was an avid golfer and bowler, often taking quiet pride in outscoring far younger competitors.

Following the death of their beloved son Parnell, of AIDS, Frank and Mary started a PFLAG support group in Iron Mountain and also helped to found an AIDS support group for HIV-infected patients and their families and loved ones which was attended by people from across the Upper Peninsula and northern Wisconsin.

Frank was a man of deep faith and an active member of Trinity United Methodist in Iron Mountain, where he was a Sunday School teacher for many years. Later he and his wife found a church home at Aldersgate United Methodist in Fort Wayne, where they were also active as Stephen Ministers. Frank was a kind, gentle and gregarious man with a great sense of humor and a handshake not to be forgotten. He was much loved by many – family, friends and caregivers alike – and he is greatly missed already.

Surviving are his son, Frank J. (Sally) Peterson of Fort Wayne; daughters, Margaret (William Barry) Wasson of Lake in the Hills, Ill., and Elizabeth (Craig) Dewey of Pueblo West, Colo.; grandsons, Ben Peterson of Houston, Kyle Dewey of Pueblo West, and Matt Voell of Milwaukee; granddaughter, Katie Peterson of Pumpkintown, N.C.; sisters, Dorothy Manko of Iron Mountain, Marguerite Reiten of Kingsford and Carmen Swanson of Kingsford; and many, many loving nieces and nephews.

Frank was preceded in death by his wife, Mary Stridde Peterson; son, Parnell McKenna Peterson; parents, Marguerite and Rudolph Peterson; and sisters, Charlotte Johnson Mason, Dee LaRoux, and Jean Conte.