Opal Peterson

Opal Peterson Opal Peterson died peacefully in her sleep on Saturday evening, July 11, 2009 at the Avera Prince of Peace nursing home in Sioux Falls.  She was 98 years and 4 months old. Opal Irene Johnson was born on March 11, 1911 in Moe, SD.  She was the second child and second daughter of Carl and Ida (Fossum) Johnson. She moved as an infant to Fairview and graduated from Fairview High School in 1929. She had wanted to be a nurse but the onset of the Great Depression prevented her from continuing her education and fulfilling that dream. She spent a lifetime caring for her family, friends, neighbors and others. The family is deeply grateful for the kind and loving care that Opal received from the nurses, aides and staff at Avera Prince of Peace while she was a resident there. The family asks that memorials be directed to the Opal Peterson Fund at the University of South Dakota Foundation to support nursing and elder care education programs at the university. Opal met her future husband, William Henry (Bill) Peterson, at a dance in Fairview.  He had moved there from Mitchell to work on his brother Melvin's farm. They were married on June 10, 1933 in Sioux Falls. They lived and worked briefly in Sioux Falls before moving to work on farms in the region. In the late 1930s they moved to Alcester to operate a café.  In 1940, seeking more opportunity, they moved to Oakland, CA but due to an illness of a family member they returned to South Dakota in 1942 and settled in Vermillion. In 1950, their only child, William Gene (Bill) was born. In 1954, they opened the Tip Top Café, a small restaurant on Main Street in Vermillion. They operated this café for 20 years closing it in 1974 due to Bill's terminal illness.  In 1974, Opal began a nearly quarter century of involvement with the sororities and fraternities of the University of South Dakota. She cooked for the women of Kappa Alpha Theta and Chi Omega and in 1981 became the cook for the men of Sigma Nu. She retired from the Sigma Nu House in 1996 after 15 years of service to them. She always maintained a close connection and affection for her boys of Sigma Nu. Members of the fraternity will serve as her pall bearers. After 55 years of living in Vermillion, Opal moved to Sioux Falls in 1997 to be close to her son, Bill, and his family. After an illness in 2003, she moved into Avera Prince of Peace where she has been a resident these past six years. Opal was known for her spunk, strong work ethic and good cooking. She was famous in Vermillion for her pan fried chicken, potato salad and sour cream raisin pie. She loved bingo and the annual fishing trip at the nursing home and was an avid following of the USD Coyotes and the Minnesota Twins. She was proud of her long time memberships in the Order of the Eastern Star, the Women's Auxiliary of the Veteran's of Foreign Wars and Trinity Lutheran Church. Her greatest joy was in her three grandsons, Lucas, Robert and William … she loved nothing more than the time she was able to spend with them.  Opal is survived by her son, Bill, and his wife, Sue, of Sioux Falls and their children, Lucas, Robert and William; many nieces and nephews and many friends. She was preceded in death by her husband, Bill; parents, Carl and Ida Johnson; sister, Myrtle; and brothers, Clifford, Irving, Lloyd and Francis. Opal's funeral will be held at 3 p.m. on Monday, July 20 at the Trinity Lutheran Church in Vermillion with burial to follow at the Bluffview Cemetery in Vermillion. Visitation will be 5-7 p.m. Sunday, July 19 at the Hansen Funeral Home in Vermillion. For online condolences and obituary please visit hansenfuneral home.com.

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