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James A. Peterson

Published: Monday, Oct. 1, 2012 10:04 a.m. CDT

Jim Peterson, a life-long traveler who enjoyed countless fascinating trips to the far corners of the globe, departed on his final journey Thursday, Sept. 27, 2012. 

Born July 7, 1935, James August Peterson grew up in Des Moines, Iowa. A shared sense of humor and interest in the sciences and technology forged a bond with his elementary school friends that lasted his entire life. 

Jim received degrees in mechanical and electrical engineering from Iowa State University. He met and married his wife of 56 years, Marlene Buettell, while she, too, was a student at Iowa State. Upon graduation, they left for the University of Washington in Seattle,and then the Azores Islands, where he served in the U.S. Air Force as a meteorologist. 

In 1965, Jim and Marlene settled in Morris, Ill., to raise their family. Jim bought Bimet Corporation, a manufacturer of thermostats for small appliances, and was president and CEO until he sold the business and retired in 1997. Over the years, Bimet expanded, employed many wonderful people, and gave Jim’s three children first-hand lessons in the realities of economics, free enterprise, hard work, and fairness.

Jim earned a private pilot’s license in 1969, and had the fun of flying for business and pleasure, logging 5,000 hours during the next three decades. He had many friends at the Morris Municipal Airport, where he kept a succession of single-engine airplanes.

Jim was active in the community. He served on numerous boards, including Morris Elementary School District 54, where he served as president; the Grundy County National Bank; the Illinois State Chamber of Commerce; and the Illinois Manufacturer’s Association, where he also served a term as president.

A dedicated member of the First Presbyterian Church of Morris, he did everything from singing baritone in the choir to raising money for a new addition. Along with his more defined roles in the community, he enjoyed the camaraderie of his many friends at the morning coffee in downtown Morris.

Jim was a playful grandpa for his six grandchildren, engaging in squirt gun fights, running the model trains, playing Cribbage, attending their events, and listening to their stories.

In 2007, when his Parkinson’s disease became more severe, Jim and Marlene moved from Morris to Barrington, Ill.

In addition to Marlene, Jim is survived by a daughter, Jennifer (John) Streit; and two sons, Kirk (Kelly) Peterson and Eric (Sara) Peterson. His six grandchildren and many dear cousins, in-laws, nieces and nephews also survive him.

His parents and his two sisters preceded him in death.

There will be a memorial service at the First Presbyterian Church of Morris at 4 p.m. Friday, Oct. 12, with a time of visitation beginning at 3 p.m.

The family asks there be no flowers. Gifts may be made to the First Presbyterian Church of Morris. Or, in his honor, help someone in need, listen to a child, and laugh with a friend.

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