Wallace A. Peterson was born in Portland, Oregon on March 29, 1938 to Doris and Helmer Peterson. He was raised in the Lutheran faith but converted to Catholicism when he met and married Jean while attending the University of Portland. Wally graduated in 1961 with a degree in Education and History. He taught in Carlton, Oregon for two years and moved his family to Babbitt in 1963 to take a job teaching History at MCHS. While teaching History at MCHS, many of his students became lifetime family friends. He finished a graduate degree in Education and Administration at UNR in 1970 to pursue a position as the Director of Special Services for Mineral County School District (MCSD). He managed the Adult Education Program and transportation department for MCSD while acting in his other role supporting the school district. The Peterson family was a member of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Catholic church. The Catholic community was an instrumental part of the Peterson’s family life. Wally also participated in Cub Scout and Boy Scout activities with his boys.
Wally had many talents and interests outside of teaching. He worked summers in a large metal fabrication plant in Portland, Oregon as a young man helping to pay for his education and growing young family. He developed metal fabrication and welding skills that he would use throughout his life to build camp trailers, roof racks and various creative implements to make life and tasks easier. Wally was a talented artist who loved painting and working with his hands. He spent relentless hours building garage spaces, fences, decks, and landscaping yards for the family residences. Wally moved with his first wife, Jean, and their family from Babbitt to Hawthorne in 1974. The family home in Hawthorne was the first large building project for Wally and family that fostered a lifetime of enjoyment for remodeling projects and construction of new homes. The Peterson family built several homes on Connelly drive to pay for college educations for the children. The building skills were also used to help with remodeling projects at the church. After retiring from MCSD in 1996 he started Peterson Construction and worked with a couple of close friends on small construction projects around Hawthorne and surrounding areas.
Wally had many hobbies including model railroads and airplanes. He particularly loved WW-II history and was especially knowledgeable about the aircrafts of the period. In his later years he enjoyed quilting and making special gifts for his children and grandchildren with his wife Kathy. Wally’s children and each of the grandchildren received a jean-quilt for their high school graduation and a special degree-themed quilt for their college graduations. Grandpa also made two cradles that he sent to any grandchild having a baby. Each of the baby’s names are engraved on a brass plate and became a record for the cradle’s use. He has sewn several large teddy bears for grandchildren, a couple of custom teepee’s, one of which was a full-scale replica of a plains teepee. He was a dedicated father, grandfather and great grandfather. He loved working with his children and grandchildren on their homes and craft projects.
Wally and Kathy enjoyed hosting bible study classes at their home at Walker Lake. These classes often combined the historical background and context with the scriptural lessons. They loved entertaining rather large groups of friends and family at the holidays. Food was an important part of family and party events.
Wally is survived by his wife Kathy, his five children and two step-children, eighteen grandchildren and seven great grandchildren.