Chilkat Valley News - Serving Haines and Klukwan, Alaska since 1966


Former pastor a ‘kind and gentle’ man


Donald Eldridge Peterson

Donald Eldridge Peterson, former pastor of Port Chilkoot Bible Church, died March 18 in Dixon, Ill. He was 95.

Peterson was born September 10, 1916, in Bayfield, Wis. to the late Frank and Hilma Peterson. He married Irma Maxine Graves in 1948.

Peterson served in the U.S. Army during World War II as an airplane mechanic in Morocco, North Africa. After his return and upon graduation from Columbia Bible College, he returned to Morocco as a missionary to serve with his wife for 18 years with Gospel Missionary Union.

When the government ended missionary work in Morocco in 1969, he was a pastor in Haines until his retirement in 1981.

During his tenure in Haines, the church here made the transition from a mission to a chartered church, with a formal membership and authority to conduct business, said resident Frankie Perry, a charter member.

“Instead of people from outside being in control, we had local authority,” Perry said.

Perry said Peterson presided over an active youth program, including a vacation Bible school.

“He was a kind and gentle person. He listened really well. He really worked hard within the church family, which caused it to grow,” she said.

Pauline Helms, whose family’s name became Helms Loop Road, sent an e-mail from Texas that not many days pass when she doesn’t think of something Peterson said.

After Haines, Peterson began a nursing home visitation ministry in Newark, Ohio and Bradenton, Fla. He and Irma stayed in touch with Haines friends for years.

Peterson is survived by his wife Irma of 63 years; daughters, Mary Hilty of Dixon, Martha Riggs of Zanesville, Ohio, and Rebecca Perkins of Aledo, Ill.; and by 11 grandchildren.

In addition to his parents, he was preceded in death by his three brothers, Raymond, Harry, and Alfred Peterson; and four sisters, Ethel Abel, Elvera Johnson, Margaret Snyder, and Dorothy Brewster.

Following a private burial at Oakwood Cemetery in Dixon, a memorial service was to be held March 22 at the Evangelical Free Church of Mt. Morris, Ill.

In lieu of flowers, donations may go to Avant Ministries, 10000 N. Oak Trafficway, Kansas City, Mo. 64155.

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