E.B. “Pete” Petersen of Salem passed away on Nov. 16, 2011. He was preceded in death by his parents, Emerson B. and Theodora B. Petersen, of Morrison, Ill. Surviving members of the family include his wife of 63 years, Ellen D. Petersen; sister Carolyn P. Lange and husband Kent W. Lange of Clinton, Iowa; his sons, David B. Petersen and his wife, Joetta, of Blacksburg and Roger A. Petersen and his wife, Nancy, of Chesapeake, and his daughter, Ann Hartman and her husband, Gary, of Salem.
He leaves seven grandchildren, Paul Petersen, Diane (Petersen) Schline and her husband, Matt, Kevin Petersen, Amy Petersen, Mark Petersen, Charles Wilson and his wife, Tina, and Randy Hartman; and one great-grandson, Damien Wilson.
He attended Cornell College and the University of Iowa where he majored in Business Administration and Industrial Relations and played on the basketball team. In World War II, he was an Air Force B17 pilot in the 388th bombing group of the 8th Air Corps and flew 31 missions in the European Theater, including bombing raids over Berlin and airlifting food to starving Dutch. His plane was hit by anti-aircraft fire and crash landed in a field somewhere in Belgium, but he and his entire crew escaped without serious injury.
The Air Force honored him for his heroic service through his receipt of the Air Medal with Four Clusters and the Distinguished Flying Cross. After the war he continued in the Air Force Reserves for over 20 years retiring as a Lieutenant Colonel and Commander of the 9480th Squadron.
Following the war, he worked for General Electric for 35 years, beginning in Morrison, transferring to Schenectady, N.Y., and in 1955 he was sent to hire employees and open a new plant in Salem. He held a number of jobs with GE through the years, mainly serving as a personnel manager until his retirement in 1985 as Manager of Compliance Program, Health Benefits and Services. While at General Electric he received GE’s national Gerald, L. Phillippee Award recognizing outstanding community service. He also received GE’s Elfun Society Award for outstanding community service.
His community service was extensive, including membership at various times with the Lions, Masons (32nd degree) and Kazim Temple Shriners. He was particularly active with the Boy Scouts of America, serving on the National Council BSA, and more locally as Council Commissioner and member of the Executive Board of the Blue Ridge Mountain Council.
He also served as a leader for two world jamborees, seven national jamborees, and led Scouts, including both of his sons, on trips to the Philmont Scout Ranch in Cimarron, N.M. He was recognized with the Wood Badge Award and the highest award in adult scouting, the Silver Beaver Award.
While president of the Salem-Roanoke County Chamber of Commerce, he helped conceive the idea and led a hospital study plan which eventually culminated in the construction and opening of Lewis-Gale Hospital in Salem in 1972. Since that time he served several terms on the Lewis-Gale Hospital Board of Directors including as vice president, and vice president of the Lewis-Gale Medical Foundation.
Continuing with his love of sports, for years he was the public address announcer for sporting events throughout the Roanoke Valley, including announcing Andrew Lewis/Salem High School football games for over 40 years. In fact, he was a public address announcer for the state championship football game played between Andrew Lewis and T.C. Williams memorialized in the movie “Remember the Titans.”
He was the voice of the Roanoke College Maroons Basketball team for 30 years and for Virginia Tech basketball and football games for 20 years. In addition, for several years he announced games for William Fleming and Patrick Henry High Schools as well as the former Virginia Squires of the ABA and the Roanoke Buckskins.
He loved to golf and served as president of Hidden Valley Golf Club, and even in retirement volunteered in the pro shop at Hidden Valley. His dedication to community service won much recognition including awards such as the Salem Junior Chamber of Commerce “Man of the Year,” Chamber of Commerce and Merchants’ Associations, “Father of the Year,” Salem Rotary “Outstanding Citizen of the Year,” and he was inducted into the Roanoke College Sports Hall of Fame. He also received awards presented for public service by the Cancer Society, Junior Achievement, Salvation Army and United Fund.
Prior to his illness he attended First United Methodist Church in Salem. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that memorials be made in his honor to the Salem Education Foundation, P.O. Box 1461, Salem, VA 24153 or to the Boy Scouts of America, Blue Ridge Mountain Council, 2131 Valley View Blvd., Roanoke, VA 24012.
Funeral services were held at First United Methodist Church, Salem, on Nov. 19 with the Rev. Bobby Pickle officiating. Interment was in Sherwood Memorial Park. Condolences may be sent to www.lotzfuneralhome.com