Obituary: Robert E. “Bob” Petersen
January 27, 2017
Bob was born in Chicago, Ill. May 13 1925 to Carl and Dorathea Petersen. He graduated Von Steuben High School in June 1943 and was drafted in August of the same year. Bob's infantry training was at Camp Blanding, Fla. and was shipped out of New York to South Hampton, England in April 1944. Trained as a radio operator, machine gunner and on 81mm mortar, Bob landed in France on D+3 and was assigned as a replacement to heavy weapons Company M, 12th Infantry Regiment, 4th Infantry Division ("Ivy"). He was 19-years-old.
Spearheading the invasion, the 4th fought through hedgerows to take Cherbourg port on 25 June. Along with the 2nd Armored, the 4th battled through to St. Lo on July 25 and, with the French 2nd Armored, liberated Paris on August 25. Bob rode in the third jeep to enter Paris in the liberation parade. On September 11, the 4th was the first Allied unit to enter Germany. By mid-November the division was fighting in the grueling Hurtgen Forest battle. The division then moved into defensive positions in Luxembourg, but soon found themselves in the Battle of the Bulge saving the city. The division continued into Germany. In March 1945, Bob was hospitalized with asthma and later assigned to Military Government unit serving until his discharge and return home to Chicago in December 1945.
At a high school class reunion held in Gompers Park, he met Elvy Forsgren. They dated and were married February 26, 1950. Elvy worked for Internal Revenue until daughter Christine was born December 27, 1952. Bob worked at R.R. Donnelly & Sons, a printing company, for 18 years. Son Roger was born March 1, 1955.
After many ski trips to Colorado with other Chicago couples, Bob and Elvy decided to move here. They sold the house and furniture and drove out to Winter Park (then Hideaway Park) Colo. in December 1962. They had a VW Bug, two kids, one cat, a few clothes and skis. They bought a gift shop, two pump gas station and a liquor store. The family lived in back of the business in a log cabin. At "Chances R", Bob and Elvy pumped gas, checked oil, did windows, sold gifts and liquor, and had the place open every day, except Sunday. Bob taught at the Winter Park School for 25 years where he became known as "Bamboo Bob" thanks to a slalom competition moment. His personality and teaching skills earned him a spot on the private lesson team where he had many returning students. Elvy got into a little politics serving on the Winter Park Town Council for six years, receiving a service award in 1992 and a memorial bench along the Fraser River above town.
Having the septic system freeze their first winter in the cabin, Bob was instrumental in the formation of a water and sanitation district for the town. He also served as a volunteer fireman when volunteers were all there were. Bob played electric jazz guitar, sang the "old standards" and was in the Bob Howard trio which played around the Fraser Valley. Elvy was an accomplished pianist, "Elmer's Tune" being her favorite. She packaged and sold her homemade fudge in the gift shop and folks would return again and again to buy her fudge. After 30 successful years in the high mountain snow country, Bob and Elvy sold the business and living quarters and retired to Lakewood, Colo. Always an enthusiast, Bob continued to play golf (10 handicap), work on a model railroad layout and play guitar. They both enjoyed their grandson Ross, backyard barbecues, neighbors and Winter Park friends who would come to visit. Bob sang in the choir of Faith Lutheran Church, Golden, Colo. Elvy passed away in January 1999 and was in Bob's heart every remaining day of his life. On June 6, 2016, Bob, along with six other Colorado veterans of WWII, was awarded the French Legion of Honor medal, the highest decoration in France, at a ceremony held in the Colorado State Capitol, Denver. Robert E. "Bob" Petersen died on January 13, 2017 at 91. He is survived by daughter, Christine Bertoni and son-in-law David Bertoni of Beverly, Mass.; son Roger Petersen, grandson Ross, and daughter-in-law Lea Petersen of Lakewood, Colo.; nephew, Joe Sebo and family of Chicago, Ill.; and cousins Cathy Brodersen of Maryland and Thomas Paulsen of Kiel, Germany.
The family plans an immediate private service. Details for memorials surrounding burial services at Fort Logan National Cemetery will be announced in the coming months. Donations can be made in the name of Robert and Elvy Petersen to the Moffat Road Railroad Museum (Grand County Historical Association), P. O. Box 2221, Granby, CO 80446 and online at http://www.moffatroadrailroadmuseum.org.
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