Harold Peterson, a Nebraska native who co-founded an Omaha business and was a local leader in the Lutheran Church, died last week in Sun City West, Ariz., his winter home.
Peterson had an abdominal aortic aneurysm and died Tuesday at a hospital shortly after falling ill at home, said his daughter, Linda Orr. He was 95.
“He was the go-to guy all his life,” his daughter said, giving advice and solving problems for family members, business associates, church leaders and others. He also served as a volunteer minister who cared for people at home, in the hospital or even in jail.
Peterson was born in Hartington, Neb., and as a 12-year-old sang a solo on the first radio broadcast of Lutheran Vespers in Yankton, S.D.
He moved to Omaha after high school, living in a boardinghouse and working for The World-Herald as a handyman at 25 cents an hour. He once built a chicken coop for Margaret Doorly, wife of then-Publisher Henry Doorly.
Three weeks after he married Marvelyn Hansen in Newman Grove, Neb., he left for England to serve in World War II, repairing and maintaining B-17 bomber turrets for the Army's 8th Air Force.
The Petersons settled in Omaha after the war, buying a house with $3,250 he had saved.
He joined his brother, Lloyd, at the National Co. and in 1945 became the youngest real estate licensee in the state. The two founded Peterson Bros. Realty Co. in 1956, and he worked there until he retired in 1985.
The business is still operating, as separate real estate and insurance companies.
After his retirement, the Petersons split their time between Sun City West and Omaha to remain Nebraska residents, their daughter said.
In Arizona, he volunteered by driving a Red Cross van, working at the local food pantry and escorting patients at a hospital.
Peterson had been president or chairman of the Omaha Area Board of Realtors and Nebraska Realtors Association, the Nebraska Association of Insurance Agents, the Lutheran Medical Center in Omaha and Augustana Lutheran College in Sioux Falls, S.D. He was council president of Our Savior Lutheran Church for 12 years and helped found Lord of Love Lutheran Church.
Besides his wife and daughter, other survivors include son James of Riverside, Calif.; brother Duane of Marysville, Wash.; five grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren.
Memorial services were Saturday at Lord of Life Lutheran Church in Sun City West, and services will be in mid-May at Lord of Love Lutheran Church in Omaha.