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John O Peterson

October 18, 2018

It is with great sadness that the family of John Otis Peterson announces his passing on October 18, 2018, at the age of 59. After a battle with dementia/Alzheimer’s, our ‘John Boy’ died at Hillview Health Center in La Crosse, with family by his side. The youngest of 11 siblings, John was born in Prairie du Chien on November 17, 1958, to Helen (Hutson) and Albert Peterson. John’s introduction to this world was not without hardship. After his mother sustained a wound from a hunter’s stray bullet that narrowly missed her womb, John was born prematurely. News stories were published about the incident at the time, with one reporting that, despite the odds, “The boy, named John, is in the best of health.” Before she succumbed to her injury a few weeks later, Helen said she thought he was the cutest baby of the bunch. John was raised in rural Ferryville and graduated from North Crawford High School in 1977. In 1979, he married Cheryl Holt and, in the years following, they gave birth to and raised two children in Retreat and De Soto. They were later divorced. He then married Glenda Johnson, and then they were later divorced. He never recovered from the loss of his son, Lucas Lee Peterson, who was killed in an automobile crash in 2011. Luke was his best friend and companion. It was a devastating blow, and the trauma factored heavily in the early onset of his disease. His mental health continued to decline in the years after Luke’s death, and it ultimately overcame him. Our hearts go out to the countless other families affected by this painful disease, some of whom we have met along this difficult journey. John was honest, trustworthy and kind. He truly loved his rural community and took great pleasure and pride in volunteering his time for various benefits and causes. He enjoyed farming, gardening and spending time in nature. A lifelong animal lover, he was rarely seen without a dog by his side. He valued simplicity and longed for the days when friends and family would come together just to be in the company of one another, sharing stories and laughing over a cup of coffee or a game of cards. 

He is survived by his daughter, Marla Rae Peterson, Madison,; five sisters, Joanne Halverson, La Crosse, Anita (Roger) Hansen, La Crosse, Dorothy Ann Fortney, Viroqua, Marilyn Kleppe, La Crosse, and Cheryl (Carl) Olson, Janesville; three brothers, Jim (Beatrice) Peterson, Ferryville, Gordon Peterson, De Soto, and Randy (Janelle) Peterson, Ferryville, brother-in-law Donald Hanson, Ferryville,; granddaughter Kylie Sue Peterson, De Soto, and many other family members and friends. He was preceded in death by his son, mother and father, brother Ronald (Norma) Peterson and sister Lorraine Hanson.

John is deeply missed by his family, friends and community. His dream for the later part of his life was to own a small, rustic cabin in the country. We imagine he is there now, sitting on the porch with Luke and his dogs at his side.

A Time of Sharing will be held on Saturday, October 27that 11 a.m. at the Thorson Funeral Home in Viroqua. Family and friends may call from 10 a.m. until the time of sharing. Burial will take place in the Walnut Mound Cemetery. A celebration of John’s life will follow burial at the Retreat Sportsman’s Club. Online condolences may be left for the family by visiting


The Thorson Funeral Home & Cremation Service of Viroqua is proudly assisting the family. 


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