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Shirley Jean Peterson, 94, of LeClaire, Iowa, formerly of Clear Lake, Iowa, passed away on Wednesday, March 16, 2022 at the Clarissa C. Cook Hospice House, Bettendorf, Iowa.
A life-long Lutheran and consummate story teller, Shirley’s greatest joy was gathering her grandchildren and great grandchildren to regale them with tales of their ancestors, life on the farm and the adventures of the many family pets over the years. She was an Iowa farm girl at heart, but she traveled far and wide to visit family all over the United States and to explore Scandinavia, England, and France.
Family and faith came first for Shirley. With great pride she helped her husband manage the family farm and raise their kids. She was a great cook, an accomplished seamstress and loved to fish. At the same time she rose up the ranks at Northwestern Bell in Mason City, starting as a telephone operator and ultimately becoming a technical manager, breaking the glass ceiling.
For many years, Shirley would often say, “I just want to hang around long enough to see how my grandchildren turn out.” Satisfied on that front, she amended her goal to include her great-grandchildren. At 94 years old, she leaves her 14 grandchildren and 23 great-grandchildren countless life lessons and a legacy of unconditional love.
Shirley was born on January 18, 1928 in Council Bluffs, Iowa, the daughter of Gerald and Camilla Skipton. She graduated from Mason City Iowa High School. While attending junior college she met her future husband, Carl “Pete” L. Peterson, and they were married on January 19, 1946. Shirley was a devoted wife and mother to her four children. She retired from Northwestern Bell in 1984, after which she and Pete moved to a lake home in northern Minnesota. After Pete's death, Shirley relocated to Clear Lake. She was a member of the Telephone Pioneers of America and also Clear Lake's Galilean Lutheran Church.
Those left to honor her memory are her sister, Mary Lou of Arkadelphia, Arkansas; children, Mike of Ankeny, Iowa, Karen (Bill) Romans of Le Claire, Iowa, Tom (Pam) of Clear Lake, Iowa, Jim (Oksana) of Spring Branch, Texas; 14 grandchildren, and 23 great-grandchildren.
She was preceded in death by her husband, Carl; siblings Frank, Phillip, and Jo Ann; grandson, Mark; and daughters-in-law, Susan and Phyllis.
Shirley’s family stories about her grandmother emigrating from Denmark were captured in this documentary in 2014. https://www.cnn.com/videos/tv/2014/10/16/roots-romans-pkg-newday.cnn
Per her wishes, cremation rites have been accorded and a celebration of life will be held at a later date. Inurnment will be near the family farm in Mount Vernon Township Cemetery.
Memorials may be directed to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital or to the Quad City Food Bank.
McGinnis-Chambers Funeral Home, Bettendorf, is assisting the family with arrangements.
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