Bud Peterson, 94

Sunday morning, June 12, 2011, Alfred H. Peterson, Jr., known to all as “Bud,” passed away quietly at Bickford Cottage in Portage. During his last days he was surrounded by his devoted family. Bud is survived by his beloved and loving lady, Della, their children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Bud was born in Detroit Nov. 28, 1916, attended Harms grade school, Southwestern High School, and the University of Michigan. He married Charlotte O’Connor in Detroit on Aug. 1, 1942. Charlotte died in 1971, leaving Bud and four children, who all survive his passing: Gail (Ricardo Wyatt) Lauzzana of Ann Arbor; Alfred H. Peterson III, residing principally in the Dominican Republic; Eric (Beth) Peterson of Northville; and Kristin Peterson of Kalamazoo.

In 1974 Bud remarried, to Della Theuerkorn, a marriage that was to last 38 full and satisfying years. Della had three daughters by previous marriage, all surviving: Sheila (Carmen Brancato) Schebil of Grosse Pointe; Lana (Tom DeGroot) Ashley of Kalamazoo; and Debra (Tim) Hanna of Portage.

Bud’s two sisters, Thelma Peterson and Phyllis Peterson, preceded him in death. His half-brother, Gordon Peterson, survives him.

Bud is well known for his career in the family-owned spring manufacturing business, Peterson Spring, which his father and Norwegian blacksmith grandfather started, but which Bud greatly expanded to become the largest privately held manufacturer of precision mechanical springs in the country. He was a machine designer as well as a leader and executive. In addition to plants in the U.S., operations reached as far as England, Spain, Italy, South Africa, Australia, Japan, Canada and Mexico. Bud liked people and wanted to bring along as many as possible on his projects and adventures. He often said his accomplishments were not really his, but belonged to the people who helped him meet the challenges he took on. The people who worked with him would tell you it was fun to be part of the group.

During his long and productive life as a spring maker, Bud was deeply involved in the industry’s trade association, the Spring Manufacturers’ Institute. He served as its President in 1970-72, led the first overseas delegation of U.S. spring makers to visit the factories of their European counterparts, and received the prestigious Golden Coil Award in recognition of his many years of contribution to the SMI.

His business career was not his whole life. Bud was a wilderness canoe camper and a world traveler. He rode his Harley Davidson through Europe during the summer of 1939, leaving one month before Hitler marched on Poland. Travel remained one of his passions. He was an avid reader, philosopher, and student of history. Conversations with him were always interesting, but he especially wanted to know what was going on in your life. Many people have been on the receiving end of his stiff drinks and generous hospitality. Whether it was organizing business meetings or family cruises, Bud loved to plan gatherings. In his day, he was a member of the Three Rivers Elks, the Masons, the Detroit Golf Club and the Detroit Yacht Club. He was a gentleman, the patriarch of three generations.

There will be a memorial service the weekend of Aug. 13-14 in the Detroit area to celebrate Bud’s rich and varied life. He touched so many of us in ways we will never forget. Burial of his ashes will be a private family event at a later time.

Memorial contributions can be made to Berea College, CPO 2216, Berea, KY 40404. Bud’s mother was from Kentucky and he spent many happy summers there. All his life he helped people in many ways. He especially encouraged people to get a college education. Bud visited Berea and believed deeply in the work they are doing.

To leave a memory or to sign Bud’s guest book, please go to www.lifestorynet.com.

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