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William Simm Peterson

William Simm Peterson, aka “Bill” or “the Colonel,” was born May 5, 1943, to Ann and Carl Peterson of Storm Lake. He passed away suddenly Sunday, March 6, 2016, at his home in Iowa City. A celebration of his life will take place Saturday, March 19, from 2 to 3 p.m. at Lensing Funeral Home in Iowa City, with longtime friend, the Rev. Jim McChesney, presiding. A visitation with the family present is scheduled from 12:30 to 2 p.m.
Monetary donations in honor of Bill’s life can be made to the Semper Fi Fund. Tribute letters can be addressed to Leigh Ann Barnett, 410 Richmond Ln., Lakewood, IL 60014.
Bill attended both the University of Nebraska and Iowa State University as an undergraduate, receiving his bachelor’s degree from Iowa State and a master’s degree from the University of Minnesota in architecture.
It was during his time at the University of Nebraska that he enlisted in the Marine Corps to serve in the Vietnam War. He received the Bronze Star and Purple Heart after being wounded during Tet 1968. The Marine Corps was a second family to him. Over his more than 25 years of active and reserve service, he eventually retired at the rank of colonel.
Bill married Karen Vegors of Webster City on June 22, 1968. They raised three children, including fostering a son from Vietnam. They later divorced.
After working for several architecture companies in Minneapolis, Dallas and Iowa City, nothing pleased him more than being able to work for himself. Bill established William Peterson Architects in North Liberty in 1990 and enjoyed a very successful business designing assisted living facilities for Iowa’s aging population. He refused to retire and vowed to be working until his death, which he achieved.
Bill married Diana Lee of Cedar Rapids in July 2009. They resided in their home near the Coralville Reservoir, always with a handful of rescue dogs running through the house.
Bill took great pride being active in his “old age,” biking to work and swimming laps in the North Liberty pool. His love for sports is apparent in the legacy he leaves behind; all of his children are either actively still engaged in competitive sports or serving as coaches and assistant coaches themselves.
His most beloved hobby, by far, was his practice of contributing regularly to the editorial columns of local Iowa newspapers. As a frequent contributor, Bill delighted in taking a more liberal view on politics while signing his name as Col. Bill Peterson, U.S. Marine Corps (Ret.). He also was an active member of the National Veterans Advisory Committee for Iowa, part of the Obama administration’s plan to develop a 21st-century Department of Veterans Affairs. His love for the Marine Corps fell second only to the love he held for his family.
He is survived by his wife, Diana Lee; children, William Brent (Lora) Peterson of Milwaukee, Wis., Leigh Ann (Andy) Barnett of Crystal Lake, Ill., Cuong “Tom” (Hanh) Luong of Houston, Texas, Jenelle (Alin) Peterson of Lahaina, Hawaii, and Micheala Smith of Iowa City; four brothers, Lee (Kay) of Yakima, Wash., Jim of Tauranga, New Zealand, and Rick (Carol) and Paul, both of Storm Lake.
Bill enjoyed spending time with his grandchildren, Katelyn, MyAn and Haley Luong; William and Allison Barnett; Eli and Isaiah Peterson; Nicolas Peterson; Tabitha Marvel (Trevor), Brieyonna Tallier and John Reise Smith IV.
He was preceded in death by his sister, Janice Alderton (February 2016); his mother, Anne Peterson Pyle (2013); and his father, Carl (1976).
Nothing sums up Bill’s life better than his own words, which could frequently be heard as he paddled hard to be the first to portage in the Boundary Waters of Minnesota: “The Marines always land first.” Sometimes it wasn’t the intended spot, but he landed first just the same.
Bill’s final resting place will be in Arlington National Cemetery, where he will be reunited with other soldiers who sacrificed so much for our country. “Lest we never forget the Marines, especially those in Dress Blues who stand guard at the gates of Heaven.” Semper Fi, Bill.
Online condolences may be left for the family at www.lensingfuneral.com.