Donald Eugene Petersen

Donald Eugene Petersen

Don Petersen died peacefully in the company of his wife and daughter on Sept. 23, 2015 at Fairhaven, the adult home in Oak Harbor that provided care and comfort for Don and his family in the last months of his life.

Born March 22, 1932, to Carl and Lucille Petersen in Cedar Bluffs, Neb., Don’s childhood was marred with the tragic death of his father. But happy childhood memories of summers with his Aunt Myrtle and Uncle George Boschult on their farm near Fremont, Neb. were vivid right up until Don’s death. His mother later married August Brei, providing Don and his younger sister with three stepbrothers. After high school he attended Midland University, served in the Navy, and returned to Omaha to start his long career with Honeywell.

Music and church were always part of Don’s life, leading him to the choir at Pella Lutheran Church where he met Marilee Plymale, a soprano who noticed his good looks and good taste in clothes. They wed on Jan. 29, 1966, in Fremont, Neb. The couple raised a son and daughter. The years were full of family gatherings and enriched by family vacations.

Don’s career prospered. He headed Honeywell’s commercial sales division in the Midwest. After 29 years he moved on — literally, as he felt a location change should accompany a career change — to Duct-O-Wire based in Waukesha, Wisc. He rose to become the company’s vice president in charge of sales and marketing. During that period he also earned a degree in engineering from the University of Wisconsin, Platteville.

Don’s broad interests served him well. An avid reader and life-long learner, he was fascinated with world history and religions. Through the years he sang in school and church choirs, the Navy Bluejacket Choir, barbershop quartets, and even a live musical. He loved to visit, and conversation with Don was sure to be intellectually stimulating, laced with his wealth of knowledge and his sense of humor. In Omaha, he rarely missed a Nebraska Cornhuskers game. He attended every one of his son’s soccer games, rain or shine, and he was always in the audience when his children performed in musicals and recitals. His daughter remembers the fun of watching television comedies with her dad, especially the Carol Burnett Show. He loved fishing and he enjoyed golf. He traveled widely in the U.S. and Canada, and he and Marilee enjoyed trips to France and Germany.

It was always family that meant the most to Don, so he and Marilee moved to Whidbey Island in 2002 to watch their grandsons grow up. They plugged into community life to serve God and neighbor and added their voices to the Trinity Lutheran Church choir. Don’s death leaves a big hole in the bass section.

Besides Marilee, Don leaves his daughter Lisbeth (Libby) Petersen, son-in-law Andrew Hoyer and grandsons Theo and Toby of Seattle; his son Dane, daughter-in-law Stephanie and grandson Merrick of Little Elm, Texas; his sister Mary Lou Robertson (Earl) of Knightdale, N.C.; stepbrothers Clarence Brei (Rosella), Harlan Brei (Dorothy), Merlin Brei (Marilyn); many cousins, nieces and nephews, including Dr. Tim Brei of Seattle and Nathan Brei (Ginny) of Omaha; a special 90-year-old aunt, Ellen, of Chandler, Ariz.; and friends who span many states and Canada.

Family and friends will gather to remember Don at 2 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 10, at Trinity Lutheran Church in Freeland. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests contributions be made to the Trinity Lutheran Church Endowment or to Hospice of the Northwest in Mt. Vernon.

Funeral arrangements were entrusted to Wallin Funeral Home, Oak Harbor. To leave condolences or share stories, please visit Don’s Book of Memories page on the funeral home website at

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