State Rep. Kevin Petersen, R-Waupaca, presented a joint Assembly resolution honoring Richard Peterson.
Born on July 17, 1920, to Ely and Lattie Peterson in Waupaca, Wisconsin, Richard Peterson graduated from Waupaca High School. In 1936, while still a high school student, he joined the National Guard.
He attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison until October 1940 when he was called to with the 32nd Red Arrow Division of the National Guard. He spent five years in the National Guard during World War II. While stationed in in Victoria, Texas, Peterson married Irene Price on December 25, 1942.
He returned to UW-Madison, earned a law degree and opened a law office in Clintonville.
Peterson was elected to the state Assembly in 1950, and re-elected to represent Waupaca County for seven terms.
In 1972, the Petersons purchased a farm in Royalton and subsequently opened Deer Crossing Antique Shop.
Following are exceprts from Kevin Petersen’s speech on the Assembly floor Tuesday, Oct. 25.
I first met Richard and his wife Irene in the winter of 1994 after being discharged from active duty service and joining my parent’s electronics corporation.
For you see, my first meeting with Richard had nothing to do with politics, but everything about climbing up on a steep two-story country farm house roof in the middle of winter, fixing his TV antenna so that he wouldn’t miss his beloved Packers games on Sunday.
Following those repairs Richard and his wife always invited me in. While visiting, we found we shared a common bond – taking care of Wisconsin’s veterans.
As we remember Richard’s life I would like to reflect on one sentence in today’s resolution which reads;
“Notably, in 1956, he was appointed chairman of the Veterans Home Committee, a Special Legislative Committee which was instrumental in ensuring the future of King Veterans Home.”
In 1956 Wisconsin was at a crossroads. A building at King Veterans Home had been condemned due to fire hazard. There was also concern about determining what would happen with future programs in the state.
Richard was elected to chair that special committee that would go on and release an eight-page report later in the year. There are three bullet points in that report I would like to share.
1) Necessity for the facilities at King. The committee recommends the continuance of the grand army home for veterans in furtherance of the policy of giving those who gave so much of their lives their just due.
2) Future requirements for the facility at king. The committee recommends that the capacity of the home be gradually increased to accommodate approximately 1000 members.
3) The committee recommends that the veterans of all wars be given first priority in the order in which they began their service; that the wives of those veterans who are members be accorded second priority; that the widows of veterans be next in preference with the mothers of veterans having the last priority; that those women who are widowed while a member be permitted to continue as a member, if otherwise qualified.
It was 55 years ago – before a majority of this body was even born – that Richard Peterson in his leadership together with the other members of his committee, set the wheels in motion to what I believe has become one of the greatest treasures in the state of Wisconsin – The Wisconsin Veterans Home in King Wisconsin. Let’s pause here for a minute, and reflect back into the past on the leaders who went before us and their contributions and leadership and how they’ve set up the manner in which we actually legislate today.
And with that I would like to remember and honor Richard Peterson for his commitment to his community, for his commitment to the state of Wisconsin, and to his commitment to his service to this nation.