MISSOULA – Jack Peterson, 80, born in Idaho Falls, Idaho, on Dec. 12, 1934, passed away, with family members at his side, on Wednesday, Dec. 17, 2014.
Jack grew up in Lima, where he attended grade and high school. Jack enlisted in the Army at age 18 and served in Korea. After his honorable discharge in 1957, he returned home, where he met Lilah Fayle at a small-town dance in Spencer, Idaho. They were married Oct. 18, 1958. They moved to Missoula that same year, where they made their home and raised their two sons, Tom and Bob.
As a young boy, Jack was always fascinated and intrigued with anything mechanical. Throughout his youth, he would hang around the local mechanic shop in town and learn anything he could. His quest for knowledge never stopped as he spent a lifetime pursuing his interests. Jack was a master of all his trades and self-taught in all of them. He was a master mechanic, machinist, welder, fabricator, gunsmith and was an all-around mechanical genius.
Jack worked at Laird Chevrolet, Iverson Motors and Wakely Dodge before being hired on at Hoerner Waldorf pulp mill as a mechanic in 1960. He spent the rest of his career at the pulp mill, where he was well respected for his mechanical skills and strong work ethic. While working at the mill he made many lifelong friends.
Jack loved the outdoors. He enjoyed the family camping trips and especially the annual trip up the Centennial Valley to Hidden Lake. He was an avid elk hunter and enjoyed hunting the Lima area. He referred to it as "God's Country." Jack enjoyed riding his motorcycle through the mountains learning new country and enjoying the scenery with his family. During the winter months, he was out riding his snowmobile every weekend and every chance he got. Jack's involvement with snowmobiling began when the sport was in its infancy. Over the years, with his mechanical genius, he designed many innovative suspension and clutch set-ups and was a master tuner. One of Jack's highlights in the spring and summer was prairie dog and gopher hunting with his close friends. Jack was an active member of the Missoula Trap and Skeet Club for more than 30 years and the MT NW 1,000 Yard Bench Rest Club.
No matter what life threw at you, all it took was a call to Jack to get the answer. In his 80 years of life, he'd been there and done that. He was definitely the go-to guy for everyone who knew him. He has left a void in our lives that can never be filled. We couldn't have asked for a better father, mentor and friend. We will forever miss him.
Jack was preceded in death by his parents, Walter Peterson and Lena Wright; and siblings, Robert Peterson and Janet Barrett. Jack is survived by his sons, Tom (Laurie) and Bob (Cindy); and two grandchildren, Kelsey and Erika, all of Missoula.
A celebration of his life will be held at 2 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 3, at Garden City Funeral Home in Missoula with Pastor Dan Dixson officiating. Cremation has taken place. A reception will follow at the funeral home. Please bring stories to share during the memorial and reception.