Helmer Arnold Peterson, a lifelong resident of Blooming Prairie, Minnesota,
died at the Adams Heath Care Center on Wednesday, April 25, 2007. He had been
struggling with a form of Parkinson's disease. He was 87 at the time of his
Helmer was born October 1, 1919 to Theodore B. "Ted" and Alma Stephena
(Wold) Peterson in Blooming Prairie; the second son in a family of six boys
and one girl.
Helmer married Bernyce Vaith on Oct. 15, 1941, at First Lutheran
Parsonage in Blooming Prairie. In 1938 he opened Peterson Implement with
his dad and brothers. In 1941 he started at Geo. A. Hormel & Company,
working the extra gang.
He joined the service in 1942, serving in the Medical Infantry. He
attended Carroll College in Waukesha, Wisconsin, preparing for the Air Corps
but was discharged due to a bleeding ulcer. He returned to the Medical
Infantry where he was stationed in Fort Worth, Texas. He also attended the
University of Minnesota, taking a short course in Dairy Herd Improvement
and assigned to Nicollet County.
He later returned to the Hormel Company and worked his way through the
Grocery Products Division at the Austin plant. Operating from the
Corporate Office in Austin, he became Director of Health, Safety and
Assurance for the entire Grocery Product Division which included Beloit,
Wisconsin; Fort Dodge, Iowa; Atlanta, Georgia; Stockton, California; Fremont,
Nebraska; Owatonna, Minnesota; as well as Austin.
Helmer officially retired in December of 1985 after 44-1/2 years, but
continued to go into the office for a couple of months, sure the Hormel
Company would not survive. He missed only one day of work, buried by a
snowplow on Highway 218 on his way to work. He carried a shovel in his
car, and if he was not able to get through a drift, would shovel the highway.
Helmer's real love has always been his farms. He helped run them in
his spare time -- even when they were rented out. He helped farm until
about four years ago after no longer being able to farm, but drove around
them constantly, and never stopped worrying about them or his renters.
Another one of Helmer's loves was lutefisk; he made the time to attend
all the dinners he could, even during harvest season.
Helmer was preceded in death by his parents; his wife, Bernyce, in 2002;
his son, Gary; his brothers: Irvin, Kermit, Arlen, and Donald;
and by a nephew, Alvin "Butchie" Peterson.
He is survived by his daughter, Janelle O'Leary, of Austin, and her
special friend, Henry Komoszewski, of Albert Lea, Minnesota; by his grandson,
Ryan and granddaughter, Robyn, both of Austin; by a sister, Harriet (Dwain)
Lehman, of Whitehouse, Ohio; by a brother, Harris (Phyllis) Peterson, of
Blooming Prairie; by sisters-in-law, Lois Peterson, of Albert Lea;
Bernadine Peterson and Julie Peterson, both of Blooming Prairie; and by
many nieces and nephews.
Funeral services were held on Sunday, April 29, 2007, at First Lutheran
Church in Blooming Prairie, with Pastors Heidi Heimgartner and Richard Hegal
co-officiating. Burial was at First Lutheran Cemetery, Blooming Prairie,
with military honors by Blooming Prairie VFW Post 878.
Worlein Blooming Prairie Funeral Home was in charge of arrangements.