Cover photo for Theodore Peterson's Obituary
Theodore Peterson Profile Photo
1925 Theodore 2023

Theodore Peterson

August 21, 1925 — February 18, 2023


Madison - Theodore Arthur Peterson, age 97, peacefully died on February 18, 2023. He was born August 21, 1925 in Wausau, W to Arthur and Emma Peterson. He was married to Ava Marie Reuter on September 2, 1961 in Richland Center, who preceded him in death October 22, 2003. He married Paula Rosanne Haseman, January 28, 2005 in Madison. A special tribute is given to Edna and Greg Schaad who took Ted (fourth grade) and his sister Betty in and raised them as their own after the death of their mother. Their loving care and encouragement greatly shaped their lives.

A graduate of Merrill High School in 1943, he served in the U.S. Marines as a radar technician with the 13th Antiaircraft Battalion. Following service he earned BS and MF Forestry degrees from the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor and a PhD from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He worked on the Northern Highland State Forest before being hired by the University of Wisconsin-Madison as State Extension Forester. His 39-year tenure was varied, challenging, and fulfilling. He was recognized for service by the International Forest Products Research Society and given Distinguished Service Awards by U.W. Extension and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. He was inducted into the Wisconsin Forestry Hall of Fame on Sept. 2, 2019.

Working with youth was very important to him- 'for as a twig is bent, so grows the tree. He wrote forestry project materials for 4-H members and leaders and School Forest educators.

Millions of trees were planted in Wisconsin through the Youth Free Tree Program he managed in collaboration with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. He participated in the development and use of the unique University Camp Upham Woods (Wisconsin Dells) with his mentor Wakelin (Ranger Mac) McNeal, in annual Conservation Leadership workshops at the camp, and 4-H Forestry Leadership workshops at Trees for Tomorrow Camp, Eagle River.

Special assistance was given to maple syrup producers at the state and national level. He conducted annual state-wide maple syrup institutes to help producers improve the production and marketing quality of maple products. He provided timber owners and mill operators with price information by compiling annual Forest Products Review reports on stumpage, logs, pulpwood and lumber. Leadership was provided in two national projects funded by the U.S. Extension Service in collaboration with the Forest Products Laboratory. Educational materials were developed for the National Sawmill Improvement Program. Pioneering work included early development of wood products research information with a searchable database and the development of an Internet web prototype for the U.S. Extension Forest Products Laboratory.

He was a committed member of the Town of Verona Plan Commission and was active in the programs of the Memorial UCC Church in Fitchburg, including the partnership with the Christmas Lutheran Church in Bethlehem, Palestine.

During his long, productive retirement years, he excelled in continually updated tech skills, creating brochures for organizations and documenting travels with gorgeous photography and travelog worthy descriptive info compiled into beautiful hard-cover albums, then gifted to his travel companions.

Ted was a loving husband, father, grandfather and great Grandfather He made and kept friendships with people from all walks of life. He is survived by his wife, Paula; his beloved dog, Jules; his slightly-less-beloved cat, Pablo; son, Mark (Diana); Darla Peterson (Petrie); granddaughter, Erin (Zach); grandson, Taylor (Rachel); great-grandson, Theo; nephews Ted (Marian) Downing and Tim (Katie) Beppler, and many other friends and relatives. He was preceded in death by his parents and sister, Elizabeth "Betty" Downing; brother-in-law, Arthur Downing; niece, Nancy (David) Livingston; and nephew, Arthur "Bud" (Karen) Downing.

A Memorial service will be held on March 25th, 2:00 p.m. at MEMORIAL UNITED CHURCH OF CHRIST, 5705 W. Lacy Rd. with Pastor Kristin Gorton officiating. The family requests memorials of remembrance to be made to MEMORIAL UNITED CHURCH OF CHRIST, in lieu of flowers.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Theodore Peterson, please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

Past Services

Memorial Service

Saturday, March 25, 2023

Starts at 2:00 pm (Central time)

Memorial United Church of Christ

5705 Lacy Rd, Fitchburg, WI 53711

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