Wayne K. Peterson

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Wayne Keith Peterson, age 86, died on Saturday, Jan. 16, 2021, at the Elkader Care Center. He was born on June 14, 1934, to Thomas and Mabel (Bergan) Peterson in rural St. Olaf. He attended school at Wagner Township Center School and Elkader High School, graduating in 1952. He was a lifelong member of Norway Lutheran Church, where he was baptized and confirmed.

After graduation, Wayne worked on the family farm until October 1954, when he entered the United States Air Force and was accepted into the Aviation Cadet Program in Texas. He graduated in March 1956 as a second lieutenant with a rating of navigator.

On Aug. 4, 1957, Wayne was united in marriage with Bernadine Seifert at Peace Church in Elkader.  They were married for 63 years. Wayne and Bernadine began their military life together and served in various locations, including Missouri, Michigan, California, Massachusetts and New York, making sure to dip their toes in both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. During this time, their daughter Susan and son Kent were born. Wayne had a love of navigation and the stars and was proud of navigating to Spain as his first international assignment in the era before computerized instruments and GPS. Wayne flew in B-47s and B-52s and served assignments in Vietnam and Guam. In October 1974, Wayne retired from the Air Force as a lieutenant colonel, having served 20 years; his highest award received was the bronze star.

After retiring from the Air Force, Wayne and his family moved back to the St. Olaf area and started farming. Wayne had been planning his return to farming throughout his military career. He enjoyed the freedom and hard work of farm life and living in the country. After retiring from his second career as a farmer, Wayne and Bernadine spent the winters in Green Valley, Ariz.

Wayne is survived by his wife Bernadine, daughter Susan Peterson and daughter-in-law Barbara Peterson. He is also survived by his nieces and nephews, Alan Peterson, Darrell Peterson, Dennis Peterson, Darlene Wood, Julie Schlake, Steve Eggimann, Kathy Lane, Debi Keppler and Nancy Teppen.

Preceding Wayne in death were his parents Thomas and Mabel, sisters Ruth Ann Peterson and Mavis Peterson, brother Harold Peterson, nephew Arlen Peterson and son Kent Peterson.

A public graveside service with full military honors will be held at 11 a.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 20, at Norway Lutheran Cemetery, rural St. Olaf. Rev. Marshall Hahn will officiate.

Due to COVID-19, social distancing and masks are required.

Leonard-Grau Funeral Home and cremation Service of Elkader is assisting the family. Online condolences may be left with www.graufuneralhomes.com.

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