Thomas (Tom) Petersen, 95, died on Wednesday, Dec. 12, at Asbury Park in Newton.
Tom was born on Aug. 15, 1923, in Reydon, Okla., to Tom and Mary (Inman) Petersen. He graduated from Reydon High School in 1940 and quickly moved to Wichita to work for Stearman Co. (Boeing).
He met and married Ada Lee Davis in 1942. They were married for 55 years prior to her death in 1997. He proudly served in the South Pacific with the U.S. Navy during World War II. He was discharged in 1946, and he and Ada moved to Wichita.
He began his career in Wichita working for Downing Mortuary and later worked 13 years for Broadway Mortuary. On Jan. 1, 1961 he bought Moody Funeral Home in Newton. He moved his family there to start a new business which became Petersen Funeral Home. Through the years, Tom, Vic Daily, Gregg Petersen and too many full- and part-time people to mention worked to make the funeral home successful and to be a place where all people were served in a loving and professional manner.
Before Ada’s death, they traveled to many states and enjoyed outings with friends and golf buddies. He was a “golfer”! He won many tournaments and the times on the golf course with his buddies were some of his best. He was noted for playing golf with Glen Campbell and Alice Cooper on several occasions.
Several years after his wife died, he became friends with Alvena Krueger. Alvena had also lost her spouse, and they became friends and enjoyed and shared time together. Tom loved Alvena’s family and was so glad to be a part of them. Alvena died on Jan. 25, 2013, after a long bout with Alzheimer’s.
He was very active in the community and served as president of multiple civic organizations. He was proud to be a member of the Masonic Lodge/Shrine (65 years), American Legion/VFW and the Kiwanis Club. He was raised Baptist and was a member of the First Baptist Church of Newton for fifty years. He had a knack for meeting famous people. Some of the more notable were: Gerald Ford, Bob Hope, Henry Kissinger, Andy Williams, Dinah Shore, John F. Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon, Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicholas, General Omar Bradly, Mickey Rooney, Mel Tillis, Larry Gatlin, Roy Clark, and Julie and David Eisenhower.
He is survived by his children: Gregg (Joan) Petersen and Fred Petersen; grandchildren Gavan Petersen, Amanda Petersen (Mike Onofrio), Samantha Petersen (Patrick Leonard), MaryAnn Petersen and Mark Petersen; great-grandchildren Conner and Brooke Petersen, Charlotte and Georgia Leonard; sister-in-law Mary Lou Petersen; and nieces Cindy and Susan.
He was preceded in death by his wife, Ada Lee Petersen; parents, Thomas H. and Mary Petersen; brother, Kenneth Petersen; and beloved companion Alvena Krueger.
A public visitation will be from 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 16, at Petersen Funeral Home in Newton. The family will be present to greet friends during this time. In honor of Tom’s wishes, a private family funeral service will be at a later date.
Tom was not a man given to anger, but he was certainly not bashful on giving his opinion and advice to anyone. He loved his times with his family, and he and Ada made Christmas times special for all. When asked about living into his 90s, he responded in a typical Oklahoma fashion, “I have had a good life, most of the time.” He will be missed greatly by his family.
Memorials can be made to Caring Hands Humane Society in care of Petersen Funeral Home in Newton.