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Wilbert Erving (Pete) Petersen


Wilbert Erving (Pete) Petersen, 96, of Williamsburg, Iowa, completed his earthly journey and went peacefully to his Lord on Nov. 26, 2018, surrounded by his loving family. Visitation will be held Thursday, Nov. 29, from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. at St. Paul Lutheran Church, Williamsburg. Pete's funeral service will be held at St. Paul Lutheran Church on Nov. 30 at 10:30 a.m. Graveside services will be held at Wilton Cemetery at 2 p.m.
Pete was born on Nov. 14, 1922, at the family farm near New Era, Iowa, the fourth of five sons born to Henry and Alma Petersen. He graduated from Wilton Junction High School in 1940 and later attended Iowa State University, where he was a member of the engineering ROTC. He later attended aeronautical school in Chicago.
While living in Chicago, he met his future wife and lifelong partner, Elvina Breseman. They met at her church, Grace Lutheran, in River Forest, Ill. They were united in holy matrimony on May 20, 1945, while Pete was on furlough from the U.S. Army. He served honorably as a master sergeant during World War II, stationed in the Philippines and Japan.
Pete farmed for many years near Wilton. In 1965, he and Elvina moved their family to Williamsburg. He founded the Petersen Insurance Agency the same year, selling life and health insurance until his retirement in 2002 at the age of 80. Pete loved being with family and friends, music of all kinds, photography, airplanes, working in his yard, traveling with Elvina and his kids, and a good laugh. He had a special place in his heart for his grandchildren and great-grandchildren. None of them will ever forget the bear hugs they received every time he saw them. He and his brothers remained close their entire lives, taking trips together and organizing family reunions.
His deep faith and love of God were the foundations of his life. He served in many leadership roles at St. Paul and at Zion Lutheran Church in Wilton, as well as at the Lutheran School in Wilton and the Lutheran Interparish School in Williamsburg. As in all aspects of his life, Pete led by example. He served as a testament to a Christian life, well lived.
Pete had a profound impact on those who were fortunate enough to know him. His kind and gentle spirit showed the way forward for generations of friends and relatives. His ready smile, good humor and his unfailing faith and belief in others serve as a lasting tribute to him.
Pete is survived by his wife of 73 years, Elvina, and their six children, Judy Bryant (John), Cedar Rapids, Dennis Petersen (Brenda), Ames, Ted Petersen (Twig), Wasilla, Alaska, Dianne Thomas, Richmond, Va., Mary Merulla (Mike), Iowa City, and Lynne Doehrmann (Kevin), Williamsburg; 13 grandchildren, Matt, Sarah, Laura, Kelly, Amy, Tara, Jenny, Jake, Natasha, Camy, Katilyn, Sofia and Zachariah; and 14 great-grandchildren.
Pete also is survived by his sister-in-law, Rosalie Petersen, Grimes.
He was preceded in death by his parents; four brothers and three sisters-in-law, Leroy and Mary, Edwin and Rosetta, Henry and Violet, and Kenny; as well as a nephew, Robert Petersen, and niece, Joyce Petersen McQuady.
Per Pete's request, memorials may be directed to the Lutheran Hour Ministries, LCMS Ministry to the armed forces or a donation to the charity or organization of your choice.