Donald Edward Peterson (94) died on January 2, 2020, at Richland, Washington. He was born on June 20, 1925 at the family homestead in the Valby area south of Ione, OR to Oscar and Esther Engstrom Peterson. He attended the Rocky Bluff schoolhouse and Ione High School before graduating from Grant High School in Portland, OR.
Following high school, he served in WWII as a U.S. Navy SeaBee. He was a Stevedore in the Philippines and China.
He attended Oregon State College, majoring in agricultural engineering, and in 1949 married Martha Hanson at Augustana Lutheran Church in Portland. They moved to Ione in 1950 to begin a lifetime of farming and ranching in the Valby area. He continued the family tradition that began with the Swedish homesteaders settling in the area in the late 1800s. He always worked to maintain family involvement in farming that is now into its fifth generation.
The tragic 1948 Vanport flood in Portland, OR gave Donald the opportunity to purchase one the flooded houses. With the help of his father-in-law Verner Hanson they dismantled this house and hauled it to eastern Oregon on a farm truck. Donald rebuilt it on his Pine Lane Ranch farmland and is where he and Martha would raise their family.
An active participant in several agricultural organizations, Peterson served as president of the Oregon Wheat Growers League and on the league’s transportation and federal programs committees; he continued his involvement into retirement. He was also state president and national director of the National Farmers Organization. His farm received the Conservation Farm of the Year for Morrow County in 1957. His community involvement included serving on the Morrow County ASCS committee, the Morrow County Resource Council, and the business advisory council of the Job Training Partnership Act. He also served on the Council of Economic Development for Oregon. He helped create MorGrass Grazing Association that initially obtained summer cattle pasture for local ranchers in the Valby-Gooseberry area. Oregon State University College of Agricultural Sciences honored him as a Diamond Pioneer in 2008.
He was several credits short of graduating from Oregon State College in 1950. During his years of farming wheat, Peterson got to know Mike Martin of Oregon State University’s agricultural economics department. Martin helped him qualify for graduation 41 years later.
In the 1960s he helped build Arbuckle Mountain Ski area where he taught his kids how to ski. He loved boating and was a member of Hat Rock Yacht Club for many years. He was an avid golfer and member of Willow Creek Golf Club. Peterson also maintained a lifelong interest in politics and economics, and he kept up with current events to his dying day.
When Martha, the love of his life, had a major stroke in 1994, he retired from farming to care for her. Despite their physical limitations, they still traveled the world.
Donald had a strong faith his entire life. He was a longtime member of Valby Lutheran Church, which his grandfather Peterson and great grandfather Olson helped found in 1886. During early times Donald helped move the Rocky Bluff schoolhouse to become the parish hall. Through the ALC he served on world hunger relief efforts.
He became a member of Peace Lutheran Church following a move to assisted living in Pendleton, OR. His home at the time of his death was Suttle Care & Retirement. The family is thankful to the staff there for the love and care they provided. The family is also thankful for his special friends, including Rich Mattes and John Spencer.
He was preceded in death by his parents, wife Martha, sister Eunice Peterson Kvistad and brother-in-law Rod, brother Gerald Peterson, and son-in-law Richard Lindner.
He is survived by his four children: Kerry Peterson (Ina) of Ione, Kristine Lindner of Hermiston, Paul Peterson of Ione, and Joel Peterson (Lea Mathieu) of Ione; and by grandchildren Emily Guernsey (Gary), Aaron Lindner (Yesenia), Luke Peterson (Sarah), Erik Peterson (Brittenae), August Peterson (Samantha), Oskar Peterson, and Babali Peterson. He had seven great grandchildren.
Memorial donations may be made to Peace Lutheran Church, 210 N.W. 9th St. in Pendleton, OR, or the Valby Church Memorial Fund, 60492 Valby Road, Ione, OR 97843.
Funeral service will be held on Saturday, January 11, 2020 at 11 a.m. at the Peace Lutheran Church in Pendleton. A graveside service will be held at 3 p.m. Saturday at Valby Cemetery near Ione.
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