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Harry M. "Top" Peterson Jr.

December 4, 2022 July 23, 2014
Harry M. "Top" Peterson Jr.
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Obituary for Harry M. "Top" Peterson Jr.

Harry Michael "Top" Peterson, Jr., 91, died of natural causes July 23, 2014 at Rush Oak Park Hospital in Oak Park, IL. Born on Dec. 4, 1922 in Oak Park, he was the son of Dr. Harry M. Peterson, Sr. and Lillian Mayer Peterson. He was a graduate of Oak Park-River Forest High School (1940) and St. Olaf College (1946), and a life-long learner. He enlisted in the U.S. Army, served in the 99th Division and was deployed to the European Theater during WWII. On Dec. 18, 1944 he was taken captive in the Battle of the Bulge and survived prison camp until liberated by allied forces April 28, 1945. In the months between his honorable discharge from the military and his return to college he wrote a book about his war experience entitled Our Days Are a Shadow. The book was published in 2006. He returned to St. Olaf spring semester 1946, where he completed his degree and also met Mary Alice Thorstensen, whom he wed June 6, 1948. Mr. Peterson was founder and president of Food Foundation, Inc., a manufacturer of pancake syrup (Timber Trail) and other sugar, fruit and maple products. Innovative in business, he was an early adopter and leader in the use of high fructose corn syrup, plastic packaging and national product distribution through cooperative warehousing (CODE). He sold his business in 1986 and remained in contact with his associates at Tone Products, Melrose Park, Illinois, who have furthered the legacy of his formulae and brands. February 13, 1975, his first wife, Mary Alice, succumbed to cancer. On April 10, 1976, he married Mary Jane Yoder, Oak Park, Illinois, who shared his zest for life for 38 years. Mr. Peterson made numerous contributions to his community including service as board chairman of the Austin YMCA (Chicago) and as a Republican Party precinct captain. He was a member of Fair Oaks Presbyterian Church where he was confirmed in 1936. A Ruling Eder, he served multiple terms on Session, taught Sunday School, chaired various committees and was the baritone anchor of the church choir and a quartet. A life-long resident of Oak Park and River Forest, he was active in OPRF Rotary and was an honorary member of American Opera Society of Chicago. He will be lovingly remembered by his family and considerable network of friends for his honorable and courageous service to his country, indomitable spirit, unquenchable curiosity, faith commitment, sense of humor, joy in living, strength of character, breadth of knowledge and generous hospitality. He is survived by his wife: Mary Jane (Yoder) Peterson; three children: Scott M. Peterson (Victoria Lynn Soland), Heidi A. Peterson (Jeffrey Clayton), Grant E. Peterson (Diane Thayer Peterson); seven grandchildren: Kaia Peterson (Chris Chitty), Leif Peterson (Alyssa Boggs Peterson), Harry Matthias Peterson-Brandt (Valerie Leigh Peterson-Brandt), Jesse Peterson-Brandt (Mary Ahlquist), Micah Peterson-Brandt, Garrett Peterson (Natalie Hansen Peterson), Elise Peterson; two step-grandchildren: Ellen and Joshua Clayton; two great-grandchildren: Caroline and Espen Chitty. He also leaves a sister, Mary Lou Moore (John Moore); sisters-in-law, Jackie Yoder and Virginia Yoder Marthey (Robert Marthey); brother-in-law, Reverend William J. Yoder; and numerous beloved nieces and nephews. He was predeceased by his parents: Harry M. Peterson, Sr, and Lillian Mayer Peterson; his first wife: Mary Alice (Thorstensen) Peterson; and his brother-in-law: Virgil Yoder. Visitation will be from 3-8 p.m. on Sunday, July 27 at Drechsler, Brown and Williams Funeral Home, 203 South Marion, Oak Park, Illinois. Memorial Service will be at Fair Oaks Presbyterian Church, 744 Fair Oaks Ave., Oak Park, IL 60302, at 10:00 a.m. Monday, July 28. Memorial contributions may be made to Fair Oaks Presbyterian Church, Oak Park and River Forest Rotary Scholarship Fund, P.O. Box 654, Oak Park, IL 60303 or a charity of choice


Monday, July 28 10 a.m.

Fair Oaks Presbyterian Church 744 Fair Oaks Ave., Oak Park


Sunday, July 27 3 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Drechsler, Brown and Williams Funeral Home

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