Merle Hay Petersen (1918 - 2014)

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Funeral services for Merle H. Petersen, 96, were conducted by Pastor Roger Claxton on Saturday, Dec. 27, 2014, at 10:30 a.m. at the First Presbyterian Church in Audubon. Interment was in the Maple Grove Cemetery. Military graveside rites were conducted by Audubon Post No. 120 American Legion and Dale Christensen Post No. 4119 V.F.W. The casket bearers were Eric Nelson, Matthew Petersen, Blake Wilt, Joe Costa, Randy Christoffersen, and Lonnie Christoffersen. The Kessler Funeral Home in Audubon was in charge of the arrangements.
Merle Hay Petersen, the son of James Gordon and Clara (Olson) Petersen, was born Dec. 13, 1918, at his parents' home in Douglas Township Audubon County, and died Dec. 23, 2014, at the Audubon County Memorial Hospital in Audubon, at the age of 96 years and 10 days.
Merle was baptized and confirmed at the Merrill's Grove Baptist Church near Fiscus. He attended rural school, Douglas #3, and then graduated from the Audubon High School with the Class of 1936. In January of 1937 he began working for Chas. Bagley & Co., an abstractor of real estate titles, farm management and sales, and insurance company. On Aug. 11, 1942, he was inducted into the United States Army Air Corp. During his tour of duty he served stateside as an Administrative Specialist being stationed in Colorado and Florida. While stationed in Florida he met his future wife and on Dec. 2, 1944, he was united in marriage to Norma Thomas Bell at the First Baptist Church in Orlando, Fla. Three children Gregory, Mona, and Bradley were born to this union. He completed his tour of duty and was honorably discharged on Feb. 4, 1946. They returned to Audubon and Merle continued his relationship with the Chas. Bagley & Co. becoming a partner in January of 1950. Following the deaths of his partners, Lewis C. and Frank Bagley in 1955 and 1956 he formed a new partnership with Richard Evans in 1963 operating under the name of Petersen-Evans Agency. They operated the business together for 23 years until Merle retired on Jan. 1, 1987. Merle retained ownership of the Abstract Company operating as the Audubon County Abstract Company.
Merle was an active member of the First Presbyterian Church in Audubon. He served as the Sunday school superintendent and sang in the choir. He was ordained an Elder and served on the Session for 6 terms which in 1958 was elected as a commissioner to represent the Presbytery to the General Assembly in Buffalo, New York. Merle has been a member of Veritas Lodge No. 392 since 1942. He passed his 32nd Degree and became a Shriner belonging to the Nishna Valley Shrine Club which promotes the Crippled Children Hospitals and Burns Centers across the United States. He has been a member of the Audubon Post No. 120 American Legion since 1948 serving a term as Commander. Merle was a member on the Friendship Home Board for over 20 years serving as President during the planning and construction of the north wing. He was a charter member of the Friendship Village Association which provides apartments for lower income residents. He helped instigate and was a charter member of the Good Neighbor Service Center which provides low cost meals and recreation for senior citizens. Merle was a member of the Audubon Chamber of Commerce for many years serving on the board and as President in 1958. He served on the Audubon Industrial Development Corp. board and was Chairman and then later served on the board of the Audubon County Industrial Development. In 1973 he was honored by the Chamber of Commerce receiving the Community Service Award. Merle enjoyed playing golf, spending time with friends and traveling to Arizona during the winter months. But most of all he loved spending time with his wife and family.
Preceding him in death were his parents and his sisters Orpha and husband Clifford Jensen and Gertrude and husband Nels Nelsen.
Survivors include his wife of 70 years, Norma Petersen of Audubon; his children Greg and wife Kathy Petersen of Tampa, Fla., Mona and husband Dr. Richard Nelson of Overland Park, Kan., and Brad and wife Chris Petersen of Omaha, Neb.; his grandchildren Richard "Eric" and wife Regina Nelson of Chatham, N.J., Anna and husband Blake Wilt of Leawood, Kan., Laura and husband Kurt Bolgen of West Linn, Ore., Elyse Nelson of Boston, Mass., Jennifer and husband Joe Heleck and Matthew and wife Elizabeth Petersen all of Omaha, Neb.; his great-grandchildren Reese and William Nelson of Chatham, N.J., and Greyson Wilt of Leawood, Kan.; nieces, nephews, other relatives and friends.
The family prefers memorials to the .
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Kessler Funeral Home
515 S Division St
Audubon, IA 50025
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Published in AUDUBON COUNTY ADVOCATE JOURNAL from Dec. 31, 2014 to Jan. 9, 2015
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