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Elsie Jane Petersen passed away at home with her husband, Dr. Horace (Pete) Petersen and family present on Saturday, April 15th. Jane was 90 years (young)! She is also survived by her children Brent, Julie, David, Scott, Barry, and 15 grandchildren and three great grandchildren.
Jane started her life in the small town of Atkins, Iowa where her father and mother, Chester and Mabel Hagan, operated a farm. The farm is now run by Jane’s son, David and his family. She learned from an early age the importance (and joy) of being part of a strong and well-connected community.
Jane attended Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa and earned a degree in Home Economics/Textiles. While there, she met the love her life at the dormitory where she resided. Pete Petersen, six years older, had returned from the war in Japan and was a Veterinary Medicine student. He was earning extra spending money by waiting on tables at the women’s dormitory where Jane resided. Strict rules prohibited servers from socializing, even speaking with the women in the dormitory. When Pete learned that it was Jane’s birthday, he participated in singing Happy Birthday to Jane while at the dinner table. Of course, his role as server was immediately ended by the House Mother. The connection, however, had been made and Pete and Jane were married on October 3, 1954.
After a short stint living in Sheffield, IL, the newlywed couple moved to Alexis, IL where they would live for the next 49 years. Jane and Pete had 5 children and their lives quickly became intertwined with the rest of the community in Alexis. Jane was a member and officer of P.E.O. for over 50 years, as well as a member of the Jr. Women’s Club, Bridge Club and Amondata Club. Jane loved to sew and do needlepoint and took great pleasure in making pillows, curtains and other things for her home as well as clothes for her five children. The matching holiday outfits are legendary! Jane and Pete contributed their time and efforts to the fundraising and building of the Alexis Presbyterian Church. Jane’s amazing sewing and needlepoint skills came in handy at this point when she lovingly created the banners and wall hangings that would grace the pulpit and church walls.
Jane was an outgoing gregarious soul. Her attraction to Doc Petersen was, in part, based on knowing that he had traveled halfway around the world during the war and had a thirst for exploring. They made regular trips to Chicago and made a point of exposing the 5 children to places ranging from Colorado and Wyoming to Florida and other states. She quickly learned that being involved in sports was a key part of her future as Pete had played basketball in high school and was on the military baseball team in Japan. Soon after arriving in Alexis, Pete and Jane attended local basketball and football games as well as having season tickets for 28 years at the University of Iowa. Pete was also a regular golf member at the Soangetaha Country Club in Galesburg where they remained members for 69 years.
As the wife of a veterinarian, who was out on calls, at all times of the day and night, Jane was the primary parent responsible for making sure the five kids were dressed, fed, and attending their classes, events, etc. To this day, anyone who saw Jane in action during those years would confirm that she ran a tight ship. Her children learned to cover for one another and draw her attention elsewhere when one of the five was in trouble.
As the kids each got married and had their own children, Jane and Pete’s home in Alexis became a refuge for grandchildren who loved coming to the big white house on Main Street in Alexis where Jane had turned a sun porch into a wonderful playroom for the grandchildren. Drawing on her own creative talents, Jane would make sure the grandchildren had an endless set of activities and proudly hung artwork and other “creations” on the walls of the playroom. All the grandkids loved the independence of riding bikes downtown to the dollar store to buy a treat or visit the local library on bikes. Jane and Pete spent much of their time visiting their kids and grandchildren so they wouldn’t miss holidays, ballgames, graduations, weddings, etc.
In 2004, Jane and Pete moved to Soangetaha Country Club in Galesburg while Pete maintained his vet business in Alexis. Children and grandchildren have flocked to their home on the first fairway for all 20 years, enjoying the pool, golf course, and regular BBQ dinners on the patio. Pete and Jane have enjoyed regular picnic nights on the point, dinners at the Club, and cocktail and birthday parties that moved throughout the community – including Pete and Jane’s house all the while keeping so many friendships with long-time friends in Alexis and local veterinarians.
The Celebration of Life will be held on Saturday, June 17th from 2:30-5:30 p.m. at Soangetaha Country Club. Memorial contributions may be made to the Galesburg Presbyterian Church or to the PEO International Educations Fund https://donations.peointernational.org/peo-dination-elf. Hinchliff-Pearson-West is honored to serve the family. Online condolences may be made at www.h-p-w.com