Jack Peterson was born Nov. 19, 1930, and raised on a family ranch in Pagosa Springs. His parents, John and Goldie, had six children, and Jack was the youngest by 10 years. When World War II began, his two older brothers left the ranch to serve their country in the military. At the age of 12, Jack did the work of a grown man alongside his father.
Jack learned all about roping and riding rough stock from his brothers. He took to being a rodeo clown and that’s how he earned his entry fees so he could compete in bareback and bull riding events.
At 23, he traveled east to New Jersey to visit his aunt and uncle. They were from Finland and this was the first time that he traveled so far from home. He worked driving a truck and various construction jobs until he was drafted into the Army. He served in the Quartermaster Corp at Fort Lewis in Tacoma, Wash., until his discharge in 1956.
Upon his return home, he met and married Helen Jacobson on Dec. 26, 1958. Along with Helen came her four children, Connie, Linda (deceased), Briana and Vaughn. Jack accepted Helen’s children as his own, and the ranch and family kept him busy with many jobs. Jack was “the jack of all trades and master of most.” He drove a logging truck and worked in a saw mill. They soon had Mindi Rae, and a year later BilliJo. He worked at the chain station on Wolf Creek Pass and helped clean up many wrecks when trucks went over the sharp turn going down into the San Juan Valley.
He and his brother, Paul, were outfitters and took hunters into the high country of the San Juan Mountains to hunt elk. He also earned his real estate license and was on the founding Board of Realtors for Archuleta County. He ran Chinde Real Estate. Chinde meant “Good Land” in Ute language.
He and his wife, Helen, opened the Chinde RV park along U.S. 160 from Durango. It became a family operation and everyone shared in the chores.
Jack sponsored the high school rodeo team for several years and he was proud to get them to the High School National Finals in Tacoma, Wash. He was also involved in 4-H for many years.
Jack was a well-respected citizen in Pagosa and befriended folks when they were in need. He looked forward to announcing the Fourth of July parade and rodeo for the Red Ryder Roundup weekend.
Jack attended a one-room school like so many rural kids and graduated with four kids in his class. Because the ranch was 9 miles from Pagosa, all his sisters moved to town and took jobs to pay for their room and board so they could attend and graduate high school. His two brothers chose not to attend and went to work. Jack was determined to receive his high school diploma, so he lived in Bayfield with his sister’s family his freshman year. The second year he chose a boarding school in New Mexico. Little did he know, it was a boarding school for juvenile delinquents. His junior year he lived with his eldest sister and husband in Mancos, Colo., where they owned a gas station and hotel. His senior year, he was hired by the owner of Wrightsman hotel for his room and board. He graduated from Mancos in 1948. The hotel and high school are historic sites. There were 17 in his class, four girls and 13 boys.
There will be a celebration of life on Saturday, May 28, at the Wickenburg Cemetery Flagpole at 9:30 a.m. Following will be a time of remembrance with photos and special family memorabilia at the Wickenburg Recreation Center and Ramada. Lunch will follow.
There will be a remembrance ceremony in the Pagosa Springs area at a later date.
Donations in Jack’s memory may be sent to Wickenburg Community Services Corporation (WCSC), P.O. Box 782, Wickenburg, AZ 85358. This organization supports The Wise Owl Senior Center, which plans to relocate in the future to the vacant Gatehouse building on Wickenburg Way.