Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Epilogue | Richard Peterson

Deep snow helped lead Richard Peterson to a new life

BROOKSVILLE — He knew exactly whose car was in the driveway.

Richard Peterson was in his early 20s, walking home in a Minnesota blizzard after work. He wanted to relax at home, but he knew his churchgoing sisters had brought an evangelist there to try to save his soul. He wasn't interested.

He went down to a bar and shot pool until the evangelist left the house. But the next day, the car came back. That day, the snow was knee-deep. He had to go inside.

In the living room, he talked to the evangelist. Soon he was on his knees, a changed person.

• • •

Richard Peterson became senior pastor at six Baptist churches. He received an honorary doctorate and wrote books on faith. He reached countless people.

It was a long road to get there. He sacrificed his burgeoning engineering career, his security and his brand new 1941 Plymouth to answer a call to minister.

At first, he subbed for his own pastor and formed a new Sunday school at a town tavern. Each week, he'd arrive early and sweep the bottles off the floors before teaching children about God.

His first official job as pastor was in South Dakota. The church had 35 members and kerosene lamp wicks that Dr. Peterson trimmed during sermons. His own home had shrunken floorboards. Snow whipped through the cracks. He earned $100 a month.

Back in Minnesota, he led a country Baptist church and worked in the field with farmers. He often took calls from folks in crisis, even the Lutherans from the church across the street.

"My father really became the pastor to the town," said Bill Peterson, one of five children. "He genuinely loved people."

He was known to yell and run across the platform. His shouting jolted sleepy kids awake. When he strained his voice preaching, doctors ordered him to calm down.

Mr. Peterson and his wife, Virginia, lived everywhere from Wyoming to California, and finally Brooksville.

He never fully retired, still dispensing biblical wisdom through the World Prophetic Ministry organization in California.

He had 2,000 books in his library. Recently, he read a book about dying and going to heaven.

When his congestive heart failure got bad, hospice came in. He preached the gospel to the volunteers, but they didn't mind — they enjoyed his wit.

Dr. Peterson was troubled by one volunteer, who he feared wouldn't discover God before he died. Dr. Peterson told the man to read a chapter in the book of Romans, that it would help him understand, his son said.

Dr. Peterson died on Nov. 3 at age 90. Just before, the volunteer sat at his bedside and wept. He had read Romans.

Stephanie Hayes can be reached at shayes@sptimes.com or (727) 893-8857.

.Biography

Richard Peterson

Born: July 22, 1918.

Died: Nov. 3, 2008.

Survivors: wife, Virginia; children, Bill Peterson and his wife, Karen, Bob Peterson and his wife, Patsy, Barbara Templeman and her husband, Fred, Becky Lopez and her husband, Bruce, Bonnie Wiese and her husband, Bill; 10 grandchildren; and 16 great-grandchildren.

Services: 2 p.m. Nov. 22 at Grace Tabernacle Independent Baptist Church, 1661 W Jefferson St., Brooksville.

Deep snow helped lead Richard Peterson to a new life 11/13/08 [Last modified: Tuesday, November 18, 2008 7:28pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. No toll lanes north of downtown Tampa in three of four interstate proposals

    Transportation

    TAMPA — Express lanes may not be coming to downtown Tampa after all. Or at least not to the stretch of Interstate 275 that goes north through Bearss Avenue.

    Seminole Heights resident Kimberly Overman discusses the new interstate options with V.M. Ybor resident Chris Vela (left), Hillsborough County Commissioner Pat Kemp and HNTB consultant Chloe Coney during a Tampa Bay Express meeting Monday night at the Barrymore Hotel. [CAITLIN JOHNSTON  |  Times]
  2. No lack of issues facing St. Petersburg's six council candidates

    Elections

    ST. PETERSBURG — The six candidates for City Council gathered Monday evening in the very chamber to which they aspire to serve.

    St. Petersburg City Council candidates (from left)  Brandi Gabbard and Barclay Harless in District 2; Jerick Johnston and incumbent council member Darden Rice in District 4; and Justin Bean and Gina Driscoll of District 6. All six candidates appeared at Monday night's forum at City Hall sponsored by the League of Women Voters. [CHERIE DIEZ   |   Times]

  3. Iraq's Kurds vote on independence, raising regional fears

    World

    IRBIL, Iraq — Iraqi Kurds voted Monday in a landmark referendum on supporting independence, a move billed by the Kurdish leadership as an exercise in self-determination but viewed as a hostile act by Iraq's central government. Neighboring Turkey even threatened a military response.

    People celebrate Monday after voting closed in a referendum on independence in Irbil, Iraq.
  4. North Korean diplomat says Trump has 'declared war'

    War

    UNITED NATIONS — North Korea's top diplomat said Monday that President Donald Trump's weekend tweet was a "declaration of war" and North Korea has the right to retaliate by shooting down U.S. bombers, even in international airspace.

    North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho, center, speaks outside the U.N. Plaza Hotel in New York on Monday.
  5. Pinellas grants St. Pete's request to add millions to pier budget

    Local Government

    Times Staff Writer

    The Pinellas County Commission has granted St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman's request to dedicate millions more toward the city's new pier.

    The St. Petersburg City Council on Thursday  voted 7-1 to appropriate $17.6 million for the over-water portion of the Pier District. This is a rendering of what the new Pier District could look like. [Courtesy of St. Petersburg]