07/20/2018 at 1:00 PMLocation:Steward & Williams Chapel
Memorial Service for friends and family will be held on July 20, 2018, 1:00 PM at Steward & Williams Funeral Home. This date would have been his 99th Birthday.
Chriss William Peterson, longtime resident of Ellensburg, passed away on June 25th, 2018, just shy of his 99th Birthday. He was born in Waldron, Oklahoma, July 20, 1919, to Carl and Catherina Peterson, the 3rd child of eight, the oldest of 4 brothers and sandwiched between his two older and two younger sisters. The younger sister born closest to him, died at the age of two. Chriss grew up on a farm where everyone worked from a young age, and the boys were only able to attend school from 1st through 8th grade, because they were needed to work fulltime on the farm. Chriss was a good student, got excellent grades, and it is reported he “may have been the teacher’s pet.”
In 1941 Chriss left Oklahoma, which was then part of the “Dustbowl,” and came to the state of Washington where he found a job working for Jack Sorenson on his farm. Later in 1941 he returned to Alva, Oklahoma to marry his sweetheart, Georgia Earl Richey, and in September of 1943 they returned to the Kittitas Valley to begin their life together in Washington where Chriss again did farm work. In 1950 Chriss began working for Kelleher Motor Company selling Ford tractors. He continued there for 11 years mostly spent as Manager of the Tractor Department. During that time Chriss and Georgia bought half of an old army barracks which they converted into a home on Helena Street. While living there their son, Kenneth Dean, and daughter, Sally Jane, were born. Also in 1950 Chriss and Georgia bought 40 acres of land on the corner of the Kittitas Highway and the # 6 Road. A year later they added another 60 acres adjacent to the east. They began building their dream home and a barn; the house was a red brick structure with a tile roof (unusual building materials for the Kittitas Valley at the time.) They eventually named their property the Lazy Acres Ranch. Also during this time, Chriss and Georgia were involved in the founding of the Ellensburg Free Methodist Church and supported the church over the years.
In 1961 Chriss ventured out on his own, starting Peterson Equipment, a new and used farm implement dealership located at the corner of Mountain View Avenue and Canyon Road. In 1980 additional property was purchased and the business expanded into farm supplies. His son, Ken, after returning from the Air Force and a few years in Management at Florsheim Shoes, helped with the business. They partnered on several additional business ventures of Ken’s including car washes and a “quick lube.” Chriss and Ken met for lunch most days at various Ellensburg restaurants, and were frequently seen around town helping each other with projects.
After Chriss retired in 1990 he was quoted as saying about his business ventures, “ I never regretted a day, and I didn’t ever have a day I didn’t want to go to work…I always figured if you like what you’re doing, you can be a success; then you can work hard at making it.” In his retirement Chriss enjoyed a Coffee Group that met every morning to share coffee, stories, and most importantly, opinions. He was a snowmobiler and enjoyed fun adventures with his snowmobiling buddies. While riding in the Cascades they would measure the snow pack depths. This information was reported to the Kittitas Reclamation Irrigation District on an informal basis, so the farmers in the Valley could know how much irrigation water they might expect the following summer. Also during his retirement Chriss built a shop at 302 S. Kittitas Street where he could work on projects, store his various “toys,” and a place from which he could sell an occasional item he couldn’t pass up at an auction sale. When Ken became a member of the Ellensburg Rodeo Board, Chriss began doing volunteer work for that organization, and in 2001 he was awarded the Dr. Maynard Linder Rodeo Spirit Award. Chriss also volunteered for the 4H Livestock Sale for over five decades, “working the gates” well into his 90s.
Chriss and Georgia moved from the farm into The Parkland Condos in 1992. After 58 years of marriage, Georgia passed away in 2001 after suffering from declining health for the last few years of her life. Chriss lovingly cared for her with the help of Home Health and daytime caregivers, keeping her at home until the end.
During his mid-80s and 90s Chriss was often seen with his good friend and companion, Dorothy McCullough. They helped each other, and as age stole various abilities from them, they managed to make up the deficits for one another, and continued to live independently until they were in their late 90s. Dorothy was hospitalized in January 2017 necessitating a move into Hearthstone Assisted Living for Chriss. In November of 2017, his daughter moved him to Western Washington to be closer to her. The morning of Father’s Day, 2018, Chriss suffered a stroke and passed away at Synergy Adult Family Home, in Bellevue, Washington, a little over a week later.
Chriss was preceded in death by his wife, Georgia Earl Peterson in 2001; his son-in-law, Keith Lundberg, in 2002; his son, Ken Peterson in 2017; his companion, Dorothy McCullough in 2017; and all seven of his siblings.
He is survived by his daughter, Sally Lundberg of Issaquah, WA; daughter-in-law, Zora Peterson of Ellensburg, WA; 6 grandchildren and their spouses, 14 great-grandchildren; other extended family, and many friends, all of whom will miss his incredible smile, and his positive, generous spirit!
A private burial will be held at the IOOF Cemetery, and a Memorial Service for friends and family will be held on July 20, 2018, 1:00 PM at Steward & Williams Funeral Home. This date would have been his 99th Birthday.
In lieu of flowers, donations to the following organizations in honor of Chriss would be appreciated: Kittitas County 4-H Endowment Fund at PO Box 802; or Ellensburg Rodeo Hall of Fame at 110 W 6th Ave, #374; or Hospice Friends at 302 S Main St. All of these addresses are in Ellensburg, WA 98926.
Steward & Williams Funeral Home of Ellensburg has been entrusted with funeral arrangements.