Willard Martin Peterson

Pete Peterson

Willard Martin Peterson passed away on December 20, 2018. Pete (Bill) was born in Wallowa, Oregon, September 11, 1929. He was the third child of Martin and Flossie Peterson and was raised on his family’s homestead located several miles out of town. Pete lived an interesting life and had many stories to share about growing up on a ranch in Wallowa County.

Pete attended elementary and high school in Wallowa, Oregon where he made several lifetime friends. During the summers of his teen years and after graduation he worked on local ranches and at the mill. He was a true cowboy. Wallowa was a beautiful place to live, but Pete was eager to venture out to experience the world.

In 1952, Pete enlisted in the United States Air Force. His basic training was in Roswell, New Mexico. Upon completion of basic training he was sent to Korea. After serving in Korea, he was stationed at Scott Air Force Base in Illinois.

While out dancing at a club near the base, he met the love of his life, Betty. They were married on New Years Eve and shared 63 years of marriage together.

Pete and Betty at Cannon Beach

Pete and Betty lived in East St. Louis, Illinois after Pete was honorably discharged from the Air Force. They started their family with the birth of daughter Kathi.

Pete worked for Alton Southern Railroad. Initially, he worked in the train yards, but he soon discovered he had an aptitude for computers.  He was selected by the railroad to attend computer classes and eventually worked with a small group of men who computerized the train hump yards. He was on the cutting edge of the computer age in the 1960’s.  During that same time period, Pete used his GI Bill benefits to pursue his college education with evening classes at Southern Illinois University and received his Bachelor of Science degree in 1968. Pete’s college degree opened doors for him in the world of banking and Savings and Loan institutions. He was hired to computerize the Savings and Loans, which enabled automation of mortgages, loans, securities, etc. The knowledge and ability Pete acquired led him and his family to live throughout the United States before settling in Kirkland, Washington.  In 1975, Pete accepted a job at Boeing Computer Services, where he retired after 20 years of service as a manager.

Pete will be remembered for his strong work ethic, boundless energy, and his love of bowling, good food, photography, gardening, and Major League Baseball. He was also quite a handyman and was always working on a project around the house. After retirement, Pete and Betty enjoyed exploring the beautiful Northwest in their motor-home.

As years passed, Betty was diagnosed with dementia.  Eventually, it became necessary for Betty to move to an adult family home to provide for the increasing care needed. This was a tremendous adjustment for Pete; however, he kept a positive attitude and became involved with the North Shore Senior Center. He drove the Senior Center activity bus for a few years.  In addition, his dogs provided companionship and he often walked them around the neighborhood and enjoyed conversations with his neighbors. Pete scheduled a weekly date to visit with Betty and also visited Betty each weekend with daughter Kathi. Pete loved his home and neighborhood and was determined to live independently.

Pete was regarded as a legend by his family, friends, and neighbors who appreciated his kindness, enthusiasm, wisdom and the stories he shared of his rich history. All are grateful to have known him and be part of his life.

Pete was preceded in death by his wife Betty, sister Margaret and his parents. He is survived by daughter Kathi (husband Kim), grandchildren Casey (Cindy), Kelley (Moe), and great grandchildren Conner, Ella, Kayla and Ava. He is also survived by brother Bob and numerous nieces and nephews.

Friends and family will gather at Kenmore Lanes to celebrate the life of Pete Peterson and all of the many gifts he shared with us.


One Response to “Willard Martin Peterson”

  • Diane Wild Burgin says:

    Kathi, So sorry to hear of the loss of your parents. I have been trying to locate you for many years. I hate that this is how I was able to locate you. Hope you are doing well and I’m so sorry for your loss. I am on Facebook if you are ever on there would love to get back in touch with you Take care, Love, Diane

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