Curtis Jerome Peterson, 85, of Chatfield died peacefully on Saturday, March 16th, 2019 at his home after a two-year battle with cancer. Curtis was born September30th, 1933 to Carl and Beatrice (Burr) Peterson in Winona. He is survived by his wife Barbara of 62 years, his daughter Valerie (Randal) Wilson, his son Eric (Laura), six grandchildren and his sister Gloria Gibbs.
Curt became well-known early in his life for his musical talents. At age 11, he starred for 18 months singing on the weekly radio program, “Twilight Serenaders.” In junior and senior high school, Curt led a vocal quartet, the “Sunny Songsters,” performing throughout Minnesota. During high school and college (1950-1955), he toured with his dance band, “Curt Peterson and His Orchestra.” After graduating from Winona State College, he performed with “The Naturals.” During these early years, Curt sang or played the trumpet, piano, vibes, and bassoon in numerous groups throughout Southern Minnesota.
Curt settled in Chatfield, where he met his future wife Barbara Boetzer, to teach music in the Chatfield schools and direct the Chatfield City Band from 1955-1960. He became an Elder in the Chatfield Pioneer Presbyterian Church, as he had been earlier in the Winona Presbyterian Church.
After a particularly inclement Minnesota winter, Curt and Barbara relocated first to Greeley, Colorado, where Curt earned a Master’s Degree in Music Education at Colorado State College, and then settled in California’s Coachella Valley. From 1961 through 1988, Curt built a long and storied career as a music instructor teaching at various times at Coachella Valley High School, Indio High School, Eisenhower Elementary, Wilson Middle School, and Palm Desert Middle School. Recognized as Desert Sands Unified School District’s 1988 Teacher of the Year, Curt had introduced thousands of students to the joy that comes from singing and playing music. Many of his students would go on to perform professionally or to teach music themselves, passing on the joy for successive generations.
During these years in California, Curt arranged and conducted the Arabian Nights Pageant for the National Date Festival (1965-1975). He was the Minister of Music at the Indio First United Methodist Church (1961-1980), and he was awarded the Bravo Award for Achievement in the Arts from the Los Angeles Music Center (1987).
Curt and Barbara returned to Chatfield in 1995, moving into Barbara’s childhood home where they have resided to this day. Upon his return, Curt resumed playing in numerous musical groups, including the Chatfield Brass Band, the Notochords, and the CBB Jazz Combo, many times playing multiple gigs with multiple groups in the same week. It would be difficult to calculate just how many people have enjoyed a Curt Peterson performance sometime during the last 75 years.
The Chatfield community was blessed by Curt and Barbara giving many hours volunteering to the Chatfield Music Lending Library. He also volunteered on the Chatfield Brass Band Board, and served as president of the Chatfield Public Library Board.
Though music was Curt’s first passion, it was not the only thing he did. Curt and Barbara spent several years completely rebuilding a beach home in Santa Cruz, California, doing almost all of the work themselves. Curt had both his recreational and commercial pilot’s licenses. He walked four miles per day with the beloved Shelties, and for many years he enjoyed touring the country during the summer months with his family, RV’ing, boating, and fishing.
A celebration of Curt’s life will be held at 1:30 on Friday, March 22nd (with visitation one hour prior to service) at the Pioneer Presbyterian Church in Chatfield with Timothy J. Gerarden officiating.
In lieu of flowers, please send gifts to the Chatfield Brass Band and Music Lending Library.
Chatfield Brass Band: https://chatfieldband.org/
Chatfield Music Lending Library: https://chatfieldband.lib.mn.us/