Obituary Details

Stephen Lee Peterson

(07/03/1945 - 02/05/2016)
Courtesy of The Lusk Herald, 02/10/2016

Memorial services for Stephen L. Peterson, 70, of Lance Creek, WY, will be held at 10:00 A.M. Fri., Feb. 12, 2016, at the Niobrara County Fairgrounds in Lusk with Pastor Brent Venable officiating. He passed away at his home Fri., Feb. 5, 2016. Mr. Peterson served six years in the Air National Guard.

A full obituary will be published at a later date.

Pier Funeral Home is assisting the family.

The Lusk Herald
February 17, 2016
Stephen Lee Peterson

Stephen Lee Peterson, 70, passed away suddenly at his ranch north of Lance Creek on February 5, 2016. Memorial services were held Fri., Feb. 12, 2016.

He was born July 3, 1945, somewhere between Mule Creek Junction, WY, and Edgemont, South Dakota, the youngest of three sons born to Julius Newton and Mary (Rumney) Peterson. Since it was wartime, geographical markers delineating state boundaries had been removed lest an invasion force was able to discern the enemy location; Steve was born in the front seat of the family car. The Hot Springs newspaper heralded his birth under the caption, "Stork outruns a V-8 Ford". To the end of his life, he claimed that to be the reason he never again trusted a Ford.

He was 3 1/2 years old when the blizzard of '49 struck the family ranch. He remembered none of the devastation; his sole memory was playing on the snowbank high above the house porch with his older brothers, and watching Clyde roll down the snowbank through the front door and into the living room.

He graduated from Cow Creek Elementary School in 1960. Many days during his middle school years, he rode his horse to and from school. When he entered high school, high school sports opened up an entirely new vista for his life. He remembered his confusion the first day of football practice when he didn't know the difference between offense and defense; worse yet, he had no idea how to put on his protective gear. He never forgot the compassion of a sophomore who took the time to help him put on helmet and pads. John Burnham's kindness stayed with him all his life.

Football and wrestling became his passion. During his junior and senior football seasons, the team won every football game except for a single tie. Many of the friends he made during those years became friends for a life time. Wrestling, however, was his favorite sport, perhaps because his young coach was such an inspiration and an encouragement. Should any mentor doubt his or her gift to the future of the nation or even to the world, that person should consider the power of a mentor in the life of a child. Orville Borgialli was that man in his teen years.

He graduated from Niobrara High School in 1964 and entered Chadron State College that fall. He walked on to the football field as an unknown and became a starter by the end of the first game. The team's record was hardly stellar during the two seasons he played, but he excelled in wrestling. His personal freshman record was 18-2; he won the Nebraska College Conference championship, earning him a spot in the national competition. He joined the Wyoming Air National Guard in 1966.

He had endless compassion for others. He and Jeanne Hauge were married December 20, 1970. When she moved to Niobrara County and was introduced to different individuals, she lost count of the times the speaker would reiterate a story about being bullied in school and Steve's intervention. The boys on whose behalf he intervened never forgot it and, though he remembered the boys, he could never remember the incidents. He had no patience for those who picked on others.

He loved God, his family, kids and almost all animals, except chickens and milk cows. So tenderhearted he couldn't bear to butcher an animal he had hand fed, he purchased his family's meat. He could have fed out chickens with minimal stress, but he was convinced the American public had been brain washed into eating birds. He was certain that was a necessity for any who ate 'foul'.

He never met a kid he didn't like. He taught Sunday School and was a 4-H leader both with sheep and horses. In addition, he spent more than a decade on the Niobrara County Fair Board, so the kids, and the community, could repeat the experiences he had enjoyed as a child. He also spent five years on the Wyoming State Fair Advisory Board. His nieces and nephews were especially dear to him, almost adjuncts to his own two daughters. As his crippling arthritis increasingly claimed his body, his relationship with his grandson Dmitri and his granddaughter Elyse were often the reason he got up in the morning. They were not the only children who called him Papa; many of their friends called him Papa as well, to his great delight. He worried about them and prayed for them and watched over them carefully. He was such a softie with them all.

The night before he died, he and Jeanne attended Dmitri's basketball game and all the way home he talked about the boys and their performance. He was pleased they had won, but he was more pleased to see the boys develop teamwork. He analyzed each boy's performance and how he might encourage each one. Now each knows the specific strengths he saw in them and what great things he anticipated for their futures.

His favorite occupation was ranching though he worked in various aspects of the oil industry through the years. He also delivered mail on the local route from the Lance Creek Post Office for 27 years.

He loved horses and dogs, but as arthritis and joint pain increased, he traded the latter for the former. In 1986, he went to his first Jack Knox stock dog clinic and working Border Collies became his passion. He won countless trophies from trials in different states. He loved sharing his knowledge with those who wanted to learn about working dogs. He was so delighted that two young men in the neighborhood had joined him and often remarked how glad he was to have local companions in his favorite sport.

His daughter Rosemary joined the family in 1971, and his daughter Katie in 1978. His little girls clutched his heart in their tiny hands from the moment he was saw their faces. He thought they were the best thing since sliced bread - or until he became a grandfather. He and Dmitri and Elyse enjoyed an especially close relationship, and he often was the father figure in their life. He shared everything he ever had with those he loved.

He is survived by his wife Jeanne of 45 years; his daughters, Rosemary (Philip) Henry of Harrison, NE., and Katie Peterson of Lusk; his grandchildren Dmitri and Elyse of Lusk, his brothers Paul (Bonnie) Peterson of Tigard, Ore. and Clyde Peterson and Shirley Lambert of Lance Creek; eight nieces and nephews; myriad cousins and friends and a multitude of young people he loved and nurtured along the way.

He was predeceased by his parents, Julius and Mary Peterson, and an infant son.

The family requests memorials be given for the family for his grandchildren's education.

Pier Funeral Home assisted the family.

Images & Attachments

Photo by Debbie Rose

Related/Linked Records

Record Type Name
Obituary Hammell, Harold (03/28/1913 - 08/18/1970) View Record
Obituary Hammell, Sylvia (02/01/1919 - 08/12/2000) View Record
Obituary Hauge, Norman (08/18/1916 - 02/04/2002) View Record
Obituary Peterson, Mary (11/05/1911 - 04/08/1986) View Record
Obituary Peterson, Julius (12/07/1911 - 10/29/1988) View Record
Obituary Rumney, Barie (02/15/1940 - 06/05/1997) View Record
Obituary Rumney, Edward (03/08/1881 - 12/20/1964) View Record
Obituary Rumney, Gladys (05/10/1913 - 06/24/1987) View Record
Obituary Rumney, Hannah (01/24/1876 - 07/13/1955) View Record
Obituary Rumney, James (04/29/1910 - 02/08/1971) View Record
Obituary Rumney, Joseph (09/11/1884 - 01/10/1963) View Record
Obituary Rumney, James (05/29/1939 - 03/23/2009) View Record
Obituary Hauge, Doreen (06/25/1924 - 08/08/2010) View Record
Obituary Cook, Julia (02/14/1915 - 03/30/1993) View Record
Obituary Rumney, Dean (10/06/1947 - 06/27/2015) View Record