Thursday, May 25, 2017

Richard Marvin Peterson (9/20/1929-5/16/2017)

Richard Marvin Peterson (9/20/1929-5/16/2017)

Services for Marvin will be held at 1:00 PM June 1, 2017 at St. Mark’s Lutheran Church, 6730 N 17th Street, Tacoma, WA 98406

Richard Marvin Peterson - 1948 Peninsula High School Yearbook (Harbor History Museum)

Once you met Marvin, you would never forget him.  He had a marvelous tinkle in his eyes and a great sense of humor.  He was also a wealthy resource of history especially as it related to the Arletta/Cromwell/Rosedale area.  

You can get a sense of his humor in the Peninsula High School Yearbook for 1948 reading information beside his picture:  Marvin Peterson “Pete”.  Hobby:  Bookkeeping (keeping dates straight); “Study is a waste of time, and I sure hate to waste time.”  Chorus 3, 4 years; Pup 3 (note: should this read Pep Club?)  Football 1, 2, 4; Track 3; Service Club 3; Bus Driver 4; Lettermen’s Club 3, 4.

Fortunately for us, he recorded an oral history on his life and his family in August 2009.  This is an attempt to sum up what he had to say in that interview.  You are welcome to visit the museum and read a copy of the complete interview in the Gig Harbor Harbor History Museum’s Resource Room.  Perhaps you had the opportunity to visit with Marvin and his wife, Shirley, on the days they volunteered as docents.  If you did, you would have received a most interesting history lesson.  You would have also been able to see a picture of his parents and a few of his 13 brothers and sisters at their farm in Arletta.

Marvin’s father, Konrad Berteus Ingeborg Peterson (1888-1972), immigrated to the United States from Skveiren, Nordland, Norge where he was born February 20, 1888.  He arrived in Hayland, North Dakota in 1911 to work on a cousin’s farm in Hayland.   Konrad was drafted June 5, 1917 into the US Army during WWI and served in France during the conflict.  It was North Dakota where Konrad met and fell in love with a young lady name Cora, 14 years his junior.  (Cora was born in Grand Forks, North Dakota in 1902.)  They were married in November 1920.

They married and many, thirteen, children followed.  Not all the children are listed on the Family Tree on  Marvin lists them from oldest to youngest:  Janice (1922), Elise (1924), Eileen (1925), Klarion (1926), Orlando (1928), himself Marvin (1929), Pat (1931), Lois, David (1937), Gail, Konrad (1943), Kathy.  He listed Konrad twice, and I only put the date of birth for those I found on  And then I found a photocopy of Cora’s Find-a-Grave page where it is stated she gave birth to fourteen children and lists then as: Janis Geneva; Albs Audrey; Beatrice Eileen; Klarion Berg; Brenton Orlando; Richard Marvin; Patricia Ann; Lois Yvonne; Gail Lorraine; Eunice Orinne; David Wendell; Marianne Olive; Kathleen Berneice; and Konrad Bryce.  So it is easy to understand Marv when he said in the oral history interview:  “I guess that’s all - I don’t know how many I’ve got there.”

In 1928, Konrad and Cora decided to move to Arletta because they knew someone in the area, although Marv didn’t know exactly who it was, and I was unable to find out.  Hans, Konrad’s brother didn’t move to Gig Harbor area until 1930.  Back to the move, Konrad bought a brand new 1928 Chevrolet and drove to Gig Harbor; Cora and the children:   Janis, Audrey, Eileen, Klarion, and Orlando came by train. They rented a house in Rosedale until the house was built.  Marvin was the first child born to them in Washington. Once here they bought 24 acres with Hans, Konrad’s younger brother.  Hans later bought another farm across the valley. 

Marvin says that “As we grew up we had all kinds of children around so there was something to do all the time.  Anyway as we got a little bit older, we ha a lot of work to do.  We had wood stoves in the house and we had to cut all our wood.  Everyday we had to fill the wood box in the kitchen - and kindling.  We always has a job to do to clean the chicken house, clean the barn and feed the pigs because we had all those.  And, then - I don’t know - we went to school at Arletta.  We had one mile to go and we walked that every day - morning and night.”

In talking about their farm, Marv goes on to say “The place was called the Station at the time because there was so much activity going on always.”  When Rosemary Ross was told about Marv’s passing, she had this to say;  “I'm so sorry to hear about Marvin. I know he has been ill for some time. Yes, we were neighbors. He came from a big family. One of his sisters was my age and she (Lois) served as maid of honor at my wedding. I'm an only child but when I went there, there was always room for one more at their table. He and other brothers used to pick me up on Sunday evenings to go to Christian Endeavor at the Presbyterian Church (different religion now). He was kind of like a big brother to me. He will be missed at the museum and in the whole community.” 
Mark driving, Klarion sitting on radiator,Orlando laying on the fenderLois and David on top, girl standing looking at camera unknown (Harbor History Museum)

The house was located one mile north of the Arletta store on Ray Nash Road (about the 4900 block). Although their house wasn’t very large, there was a bunk house for the boys and as Marv’s tells it “we slept out there all summer long ’til winter when it got so cold we couldn’t take it any more.  But then the oldest were always usually gone.”  They went to Tacoma to live at the YWCA after high school to work because they couldn’t get back and forth.  Those still in school worked all year round after school and during the summer.  Cutting wood, fixing the well, felling trees on their acreage and basically keeping everything on the farm in working order including the crops.  But there was fun and games as well, especially after supper in the evenings.  And of course there was the Arletta dock where they could fish.  He says that they hung out mostly in Arletta because of the dock, or Horsehead Bay;  Rosedale was like a foreign country to them.  

When Marv was in high school he worked at Coleman’s Camp; a YMCA camp for kids from Seattle, and also for Kopa Chuck Lodge cutting grass.  He attended Gig Harbor Union High School for the first 3 years, and then transferred to Peninsula High School after it was built  for the final year.  He would ride his motorcycle from home to Cromwell where the bus was garaged at the Cromwell School.  On his way there, he rode by Warren waking everyone up so when he returned with the bus they were ready, then to Horsehead Bay for more students, and finally to Peninsula High School in Purdy.  

While Marv was in high school his father had a gill net boat so he and his brother (he doesn’t mention which one but I’m thinking it was probably Orlando) would take the boat over to Dash Point, fish some, come back to Gig Harbor and go to school.  This was before Peninsula was completed.  

After graduation, 1948, 49 and 50 he fished with Emmett Ross (Ronald Ross’ dad) on his boat “Westland”.  Marv fished with Nick Tarabochia on Tarabochia’s boat “Planet”.  It was a purse seiner.  They fished for salmon in the fall in the Puget Sound and then for dog fish livers in the ocean waters.  This was probably 1950, the same year he was drafted to serve in the Korean Conflict.  Or Korean War as it is now called.  He actually received the draft notice while fishing; so he called them up and said “I’m out in the ocean.  I can’t come in and I was supposed to report.”  The Draft Board told him to “Report when you can.”  Took his basic training at Fort Lewis and was suppose to go to Korea as a trainer for an infantry replacement.  But just before they were to leave, he got transferred to Salzburg Austria for two years.  
Mending nets; netshed in background.  From Left: Dick Meyer, Emmett Ross, Marvin Peterson, John Ancich, Ronald Ross (Harbor History Museum)

After the war was over and he had returned home, he decided to take a trip to Illinois to see a girl; but not the one he married.  When he arrived in Illinois his cousin visiting from Norway was staying with a young lady, Shirley and her family.  This gave both Marv and Shirley an opportunity to get acquainted and still visit with the cousin.  When Marv returned to Gig Harbor he and Shirley started a mail correspondence.  A year later, Shirley went to Oregon to visit an aunt, and she came to Gig Harbor.  Two weeks later, they became man and wife.  

Shirley, being a good sport, went fishing with Marv but he decided it wasn’t that good of a good life.  He went to work for Pacific Northwest Bell and US West and spent 36 years with them.  They have three children, Lisa Helming, Mike and Tom Peterson.   

Mark was a member of St. Mark’s Lutheran Church, the Norman Male Chorus, Sons of Norway, a docent at the Harbor History Museum, a volunteer at the Scandinavian Cultural Center at Pacific Lutheran University where his uncle Hans Marius Peterson’s Oral History, photographs and other documents are held, and Nordlandslaget.  He was also an accomplished acanthus carver; a form of Norwegian decorative woodcarving. 

  • HHM Oral History - Marvin Peterson
  • Haven or Rest Obituary
© 2012 Harbor History Museum. All rights reserved.

No comments:

Post a Comment