Richard George Peterson died December 7, 2019 at Centennial Park Retirement Village in North Platte, NE at the age of 90 years.
Richard was born in Palisade, NE on May 18, 1929 to parents George and Bertha (Kittle) Peterson. The oldest of three siblings, he, his brother, Marvin, and sister, Ruth, were raised on the family farm southwest of Hayes Center, NE and attended Swan Lake School. Richard graduated from Hayes Center High School in 1947.
Richard married Norma (Nitsch) Peterson on February 17, 1950. The couple moved to a farm east of Hayes Center where they raised their children, Bruce and Lana. In 1977, he and Norma built a home in Hayes Center. They loved to host holiday gatherings and their yard became the playing field for neighborhood football games. With Bruce’s assistance, Richard was able to stay in that home his entire life, even though he struggled with Parkinson’s Disease.
Besides being a farmer and rancher, as a young man Richard worked with Babe Fidler and plumbed most of the houses in Hayes Center when city water became available. He later owned and operated a heavy equipment construction company and helped local farmers implement conservation practices by building terraces, dams and pits. Richard also worked as an elementary custodian at Hayes Center Public School, retiring in 2000. Richard spent his retirement years in his woodworking shop, refinishing furniture for family and friends.
A life-long member of Union Congregational United Church of Christ, Richard served on every board and assisted with every remodeling project. He was also a member of the Palisade Masonic Lodge and the McCook Elks Lodge. Additionally, he volunteered as a 4-H leader and served on the Hayes County 4-H Council.
Richard’s favorite family tradition was cooking oyster stew on Christmas Eve, which he did for 69 consecutive years. And, he was always willing to make homemade ice cream on request. He enjoyed visiting Florida and going deep sea fishing in the Keys. He spent hours watching the grandchildren, Nolan and Rhea, participate in high school and college activities; and when he was blessed with great grandchildren, he spoiled them with candy bars or cookies from his green cookie jar. Richard always enjoyed dancing and playing cards, especially bridge and cribbage.
Richard was preceded in death by his wife, Norma, in 2001; his parents, George (Bertha) Peterson; brother, Marvin Peterson; his sister and husband, Ruth (Robert) Ward; parents in law, Carl (Leona) Nitsch; brother in law, Joe Nitsch; and his sister in law and husband, Carol (Elden) Fuller.
Loved ones left to celebrate Richard’s life include his son, Bruce Peterson and daughter, Lana (Rick) May, all of Hayes Center; grandson, Nolan (Erin) May of Kearney, NE; granddaughter, Rhea (Craig) Softley of Hayes Center; eight great grandchildren, Blaire, Caylie, Carly, Eli, Cydney, Colton, Tyler and Celia; as well as nieces, nephews and cousins.
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Union Congregational United Church of Christ
301 Hall Street, Hayes Center NE 69032
Hayes Center Senior Center
PO Box 366, Hayes Center NE 69032