William H. Peterson, 83, Stevens Point, formerly of Whiting, a former local Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) forest ranger and Portage County Board supervisor, died Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2012, at the Stevens Point Care Center in Whiting.
A celebration of life will be held at 11:30 a.m. Tuesday at St. Paul Lutheran Church in Stevens Point, with the Rev. Thomas Petersen officiating.
Visitation will be held at Boston Funeral Home in Stevens Point from 4 to 7 p.m. Monday and at the church from 10:30 a.m. Tuesday until the service. An American Legion ritual will be held at the funeral home at 6:p.m. Monday.
A memorial will be established in his name at a later date.
Condolences may be offered online at bostonfuneralhome.net.
Mr. Peterson was born June 13, 1928, in Chicago, Ill., a son of the late Harry and Lorena (Oustreich) Peterson. He attended grade school in Chicago, Ill., moving to Wisconsin Rapids as a teenager with his family and graduating from high school there. He began college at Central State Teacher’s College (now the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point) in Stevens Point in 1947, receiving a degree in conservation in 1951.
He was inducted into the U.S. Army in 1951, serving in Germany for 18 months. While in Germany, he played soccer on the Army traveling soccer league. He received an honorable discharge in 1953.
Mr. Peterson was married to Margery E. Polansky on Sept. 25, 1954, at Emmanuel Lutheran Church in Wisconsin Rapids.
Following military service, he moved back to Wisconsin Rapids and joined the state Conservation Department as a forest ranger. The ranger program was new at that time to Wisconsin, and he was the second ranger hired by the state. He was assigned to Portage County and moved to Stevens Point in 1954. He worked as a forest ranger for 33 years, retiring May 16, 1986. For many years, he taught Fire School in Tomahawk to new recruits entering into the DNR firefighter line of work. He was deputized by the Portage County Sherriff’s Department and had warden credentials.
Mr. Peterson was fire chief of the Whiting Fire Department for 42 years. During that time, he was instrumental in developing the department to where it is today, and he helped design two fire stations. In earlier years, he was known as a “one person” Fire Department, before the development of many of the rural departments of today. He often played the role of Smokey Bear.
After retirement, he was a Portage County Board supervisor from 1987 to 2010. He was also involved with many committees for the county and served as chair for the Portage County Parks for a number of years. He was instrumental in setting up many land purchases by the state of Wisconsin; the Turtle Flambeau Flowage in Iron County being one of the many projects that he worked on.