Richard “Dick” L. Peterson, 80, passed away April 21, 2023, following a short illness and a long, courageous battle with dementia.
Dick was born to Howard and Ruth (Zimmermann) Peterson in Burlington on April 24, 1942. He proudly called Burlington home for the rest of his life.
On Dec. 20, 1969, Dick married Elizabeth “Betty” K. Smith. While he maintained it was the only mistake she ever made, the two proved to be an unstoppable duo, raising four children in a home filled with love and the occasional grounding. After their children were grown and Dick and Betty were both retired, they traveled extensively and spent their summers on the beautiful north shore of West Battle Lake, Minnesota. There, Dick spent a lot of time on his boat and a little time catching fish.
Dick earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from UW-Madison and was a Badger through and through, but most especially on Saturdays at Camp Randall.
Dick received a commission as Second Lieutenant from ROTC at UW-Madison. After reporting for active duty, he was sent to Germany where he served with a Hawk Missile Battery. Upon his release from active duty, he was assigned to the 84th Division, a reserve unit headquartered in Milwaukee. he served for 22 years, retiring at the rank of Lieutenant Colonel.
Dick worked for the Burlington Area School District for 34 years. After a brief stint as a history teacher, he became an assistant principal at Burlington High School, a position he held until his retirement in 2001. Dick saw goodness and potential in every kid who walked through the doors of the high school and loved going to work every day.
Like his father before him and his brother after him, Dick was a member of the Burlington Fire Department. He served for 50 years, eventually becoming Deputy Fire Chief. The fire department was an important source of community and support for Dick and his family and has continued to be through these last years.
Dick was a WIAA baseball umpire for over 50 years. He apologizes for any bad calls. He was a longtime member of the board of Love, Inc. He was a life-long and active member of Plymouth Congregational UCC.
Dick is survived by his wife of 53 years, Betty, whom he adored every day of all those years. He is also survived by his four grateful children Shane Peterson of Boswell, Oklahoma, Stacie (Tom) Coleman of Burlington, Neal Peterson of Biloxi, Mississippi and Sarah (Glen Pawelski) Peterson of Madison; two beloved grandsons, Jack and Bo Coleman; his brother and friend James “Jim” (Laurie) Peterson, of Burlington; sister-in-law Evelyn Price of Williams Bay; brother-in-law Jerry (Sharon) Smith of Shingle Springs, California, and numerous other relatives and friends, too many to name but treasured just the same.
Dick was preceded in death by his parents and his brother-in-law, Dennis “Tony” Price.
Dick’s family would like to thank the following who cared for Dick and his family in equal measure: the staff at Aurora Lakeland Medical Center and Aurora Hospice for giving Dick the comfort he deserved and desperately sought the last days of his life; nurse Heidi from Aurora at Home; and Chad and Desteney from Touching Hearts at Home.
In lieu of flowers, memorial donations in Dick’s honor can be made to the Burlington High School Scholarship Fund, Plymouth Congregational UCC, or Love, Inc.
Services for Dick will be held Thursday, April 27, 2023, at 7 p.m. at Plymouth Congregational UCC, with Rev. Johnston officiating. Relatives and friends may visit with the family from 3:30 until 6:30 p.m. at Plymouth Congregational UCC. A burial will be held at 10 a.m. on Friday, April 28, 2023, at Burlington Cemetery.
Please dress casually in your Burlington Demon or Wisconsin Badger gear and send Dick off in the style he preferred.
Schuette-Daniels Funeral Home is serving the family. Well-wishers may visit www.danielsfamilyfuneral.com.