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Longtime Rotary leader remembered

C.R “Chuck” Peterson, a founding member of McHenry’s Rotary Club and longtime local businessman, was remembered for his selfless commitment to the McHenry community.

Peterson, of Johnsburg, died Monday at Centegra Hospital – McHenry. He was 95.

“Some people will talk the talk. But Chuck Peterson truly walked the walk,” said Donna Schaefer, McHenry Township supervisor and Rotary Club member. “He was a living example of all the things Rotary teaches us about community service and ethical behavior.”

Peterson was a charter member of the McHenry Rotary Club, which was established in 1955, and remained active with the service organization to the end.

“He’s had a 100 percent attendance,” said Ron Bykowski, a Rotary member who has known Peterson since Bykowski was 12 years old. “Chuck was involved with virtually every Rotary event since 1955.”

Peterson was born Dec. 12, 1916, in Chicago. After graduating from Lane Tech High School in Chicago, Peterson went into the service, serving as a captain in the U.S. Army Air Force from 1942 to 1946. During this time, he married Mattie Lois Bird on June 29, 1943, in Lubbock, Texas. The couple was married for 68 years.

He graduated from Randolph Field, known as the West Point of the Air, as a twin engine pilot. After World War II, Peterson joined the Civil Aeronautics Administration, where he worked from 1946 to 1952, Bykowski said.

“Chuck was probably the most shining example of the members of the greatest generation,” Bykowski said. “We can all learn from his loyalty and dedication that Chuck really demonstrated to his family, community, his church and to the Rotary. It’s hard to find that kind of dedication. One of the mottoes of Rotary service is ‘Service above self.’ Chuck really exemplified that.”

Peterson worked as an agent for Principal Financial Group for 56 years. Six years ago, he partnered with Jeff Batt, 38, to establish the McHenry Area Financial Group. Peterson last stopped by the office last week, Batt said.

“It was really inspiring to see someone who didn’t believe in retirement, who loved to work and loved helping people,” Batt said.

Peterson also was active with the First United Methodist Church, the Pistakee Yacht Club, the McHenry County Life Underwriters and the local American Legion. In 2008, he received the Frank E. Low Award, an annual recognition by the McHenry Chamber of Commerce given to individuals for their community contributions.

“He certainly was a mentor, the way he ran his business and his life. He was a real inspiration and a mentor to us,” Batt said. “He had high ethical standards with the way he ran business and people really respected him for that.

“He’ll be dearly missed, there’s no doubt about that.”

Survivors include his wife; three daughters Virginia Garrison of McHenry, Valerie Spike Peterson of Tucson, Ariz., and Vicki Peterson Caputo of Long Grove; six grandchildren and one great-grandchild.

The visitation will be Thursday from 4 to 8 p.m. at Colonial Funeral Home, 591 Ridgeview Drive in McHenry.

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