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James Riefe Peterson, 98, passed away on Friday, October 12, 2018 at the Colfax Health & Rehabilitation Center in Colfax, WI.

He was born on April 28, 1920 in Vinton, IA along with his twin brother, Dean, to the late William and Gertrude (Riefe) Peterson.

Jim lived in several communities in Iowa while growing up, but called Mason City home. He attended high school in Dodge City and Belmond before graduating from Mason City High School in 1938. After high school, he attended junior college in Mason City and then enrolled at the University of Iowa. He was washing dishes at the University Student Union when he heard the news that Pearl Harbor had been attacked.

He joined the Army Air Corp in 1942 and was stationed in Australia and New Guinea. Jim was a crew member on a B-17 Bomber named “Black Jack” when it crashed off the coast of Kakau returning from a bombing mission over Rabaul. In 1986, Black Jack was located by scuba divers. The crash site and the rescue of the crew members became the subject of a documentary ( and was also featured in the April 1988 issue of National Geographic entitled “Ghosts of War in the South Pacific”.

When the war ended, Jim returned to the University of Iowa and graduated in 1946 with a degree in business administration. He remained a loyal Iowa Hawkeye fan all of his life. He held various sales positions after graduating. In 1960, Jim went to work for Northwestern States Portland Cement Company as a sales representative based in Fargo, ND and retired in 1985.

Jim married Gwendolyn Bohning on April 10, 1954 in Springdale, Arkansas. They were happily married for 55 years, living in Springdale, AR, Kansas City, MO and Salina, KS before settling and raising their family in Fargo, ND.

Jim enjoyed playing golf, watching football, fishing and spending time at his lake home in Vergas, MN. He and Gwen spent many enjoyable winters in Mesa, AZ. In 2006, they moved to Eau Claire, WI to be closer to family.

He was preceded in death by his parents; brothers, Bill and Dean; and his beloved wife, Gwen.

Jim is survived by his son and daughters, Christine (Michael) Tandberg of Elk Mound, WI, Kurt Peterson of Devils Lake, ND and Lynnette Talge of Kansas City, MO; grandchildren, Andrew, Aaron and Alex Tandberg and Evan Peterson; sisters-in-law, Karon (Ronald) Carpenter of La Crosse, WI and Barbara (Loren) Snyder of Pleasant Hill, IA; and his nieces and nephews.

A Celebration of Life will be held 11:00 a.m. on Thursday, October 18, 2018 at First Presbyterian Church (2112 Rudolph Road, Eau Claire) with Reverend Kathryn Reid Walker officiating. Visitation will be one hour prior to service at church. Entombment will be in the church columbarium. Evergreen Funeral Home and Crematory is serving the family.

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