John was a native son of Albert Lea, except for the years spent in college and Army service during the Korean War. He was born in 1928 at the old Naeve Hospital building to Bertha and Elmer Peterson. His mother had the “luxury” at the time of remaining in the hospital for two weeks with her new baby. John’s paternal grandfather arrived in America from Sweden aboard a sailing ship after the Civil War in the 1860s.
During John’s growing up years in Albert Lea, he was employed by the neighborhood milkman to help deliver milk bottles to the front porches at dawn for which he received 50 cents a day and all the chocolate milk he could drink. That was followed some years later by a summer stint of “selling sidewalk” to residents for the city of Albert Lea.
After graduating from Albert Lea High School, he arrived at Carlton College in Northfield as a freshman and reported to the hockey coach ready to play… on his figure skates, a skill he had acquired on the frozen bays of Fountain Lake – a switch to hockey skates was suggested and followed. During one summer break, he worked as a lobby porter at Glacier National Park, hoping to earn money from tips carrying baggage for the tourists. But he found his duties there consisted of organizing chairs in the lobby for the nightly Indian Show and cleaning the bathrooms. At the end of his senior year he was hired to teach English as a second language in Lyon, France. The local draft board said otherwise. He would have to stay in the States to be immediately available to report for duty in the Armed Services. That call came a year later after John finished his freshman year at the University of Michigan Law School.
Returning to law school after two years of Army service at Ft. Smith Arkansas, he met a fellow student who was to become his wife. He wooed her with a second hand ukulele picked up in Arkansas to the tune of “You are My Sunshine”. After graduation he joined his father, Elmer Peterson, who was in solo law practice in Albert Lea starting in the early 1920s. The law office was located on Broadway on the second floor over what is now Addie’s Floral and Gifts. Over the years the firm grew to several lawyers, eventually joined by John’s son, Doug Peterson, and it is now located in the remodeled Elks building.
After John’s retirement, his years were spent in Tucson, Arizona in the winters and Albert Lea in the summers. John was often seen walking around Fountain Lake with his wife in fair and foul weather alike – a custom continuing into his eighties and beyond in Albert Lea and Tucson.
His positivity, humor, kindness, and legal skills are legacies that are prized by his family.
Survivors are: wife, Cynthia; son, Doug (Jill) Peterson; daughter, Carla Street; grandchildren: Corbyn (Matt) Olson, Connor (Danilo) Dorsey, Lucas (Malory) Peterson, and CeCe Street; great grandsons: Brekken and Crawford Olson, and Declan Dorsey. Predeceased by: sister, Dorothy May Obaid; brother, Elmer “Bob” Peterson, and grandson, Jean Marc Ellul Street.
John passed away on Thursday, March 24, 2022 at age 93.
Memorial service will be 11:00 am Friday, April 1, 2022 at First Presbyterian Church in Albert Lea with visitation one hour prior.
Memorials preferred to donor’s charity of choice.
To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of John Roswell Peterson, please visit our floral store.