Donald 'Don' Peterson
October 4, 2023
Donald "Don" Peterson died in his sleep of natural causes on Wednesday, Aug. 9, 2023, at the age of 97. He resided at Christa Shores Assisted Living in Silverdale, Wash., on the shores of Puget Sound. In his last year he enjoyed company in the Sunroom and the visits of friends and family. One of his favorite things to do was to taste the first honeydew melons or whatever else was "just" in season. His eyesight and hearing did not allow him to identify the birds like years ago, but he was always appreciative to feel the sun and to take in the fresh air and salty breeze on walks with family.
A 30 minute military memorial service and interment are planned for Friday, Oct. 27, at 2 p.m., at Tahoma National Cemetery at 18600 SE 240th St., Kent, WA 98042.
Don was born in Wolf Point, Mont., on May 14, 1926. His father, John Walter Peterson, worked for the railroad and his mother Orel Elizabeth Dietrich was a hard-working homemaker. Elton Peterson, his brother, lived in Seattle, Wash., worked for Boeing, and he died in 2009.
Don graduated from Glasgow High School, Glasgow, Mont., in 1944. Don had many excellent old friends. One of them was his late high school buddy and friend Leonard Eckhart. Don's activities were football, Star Scout, and the Rifle Club, where he began his lifelong appreciation for the mechanics of firearms. He immediately joined the Navy on June 20, 1944, to arrive in the Philippines just as WW2 ended. Upon discharge he took advantage of what was then called the "GI Bill," attending Montana State University, and going on to graduate from Northwestern University Dental School.
In his last year of Dental school, he married his first wife Helen Marie Schnaidt (1933-2020) in 1953 at her family home of Los Angeles, Calif. Helen and Don met at Northwestern, and she became a dental hygienist. Don spent a brief period of time practicing in Glasgow alongside Sam Espeland, a longtime close friend and classmate. They compared notes throughout the years as they had a mutual respect for one another. Sam resides in Glasgow.
In 1957, Don moved to Billings, Mont. He only treated children over the years, and he had lots of entertaining anecdotes to share. One of these tales had a young child who entered the room brandishing pistols and who, upon feeling the prick of the needle, swore like blazes. Don claimed that he was laughing so hard that he had to leave the room. The family never tired of hearing this story. In Billings, Don had a variety of business partners. Bob Miller was a trusted partner for a time as well as a lifelong dear friend. He resides in Billings with his wife, Jean.
Helen and Don had five daughters. Susan Peterson, Billings; Valerie Peterson, Albany, Ore .; Nancy Salacinski, Belgrade, Mont .; Jeannie Powell (1963-2021), and Amy Shoshana Parry, Fairfax, Calif., and spouses. Also he had seven grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. They were married for 26 years.
In retirement Don moved to Saint Xavier, Mont., to a home he had built near the Big Horn River. In 1992, Don met Hope Lee Vance (1936-2019) through friends at a super bowl party, in Billings. They were married in 1994 and resided in Saint Xavier where he fished, hunted, gardened and did wood working. In 1999 they moved to Port Ludlow, Wash. Don volunteered his time at the Chimacum High School assisting in shop classes. He advertised in the local paper to fix small electrical jobs. He was always willing to lend a hand if you needed it with a project. He enjoyed giving things a lot of thought so they would work well. The fact that he had a calming impact on people was one of his many pluses. When conversing with him, one felt heard.
I once botched up trying to replace the kitchen sink faucet. He dropped everything and took a ferry to Seattle to come and fix it. He improved things, whether it was by honing the hand mower's blades, caning a chair, checkering a rifle stock, building beautiful furniture, restoring old furniture, or repairing a lamp. He also helped many friends and family with carpentry jobs. He volunteered eradicating noxious weeds from the area's trails. He continued to walk with his friends, gardened and enjoyed making recipes with fresh vegetables and herbs. He loved making a good "soup." Eating oysters was one of Don and Hope's favorite pastimes. Hope would cook them delicious dinners while Don went oystering. They were married for 25 years.
In addition, there are four stepdaughters. Kelly Lack, Vancouver, BC, Canada, Lee Withington, Seattle, Wash., Kim Stone, Spokane, Wash., Mary Bunk, Arizona, and spouses; four step grandchildren, and six great kids.
Don would want to thank Martin M. Withington for his dedication and love.
Don is deep in our hearts, and we will always cherish the memories we have of him. He was a gentle and kind man who liked helping people in his career and his personal life.
Consider planting a fruit tree or an heirloom tomato in his memory rather than sending flowers.