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Obituary: William F. Peterson

- from the Wheeling Intelligencer, Jan. 17, 1896


W. F. Peterson, a Prominent Old Citizen Passes Away.


Was Apparently in His Ordinary Health When He Retired the Night Before -- A Sketch of His Life, All of which was Spent in Wheeling -- A Good Citizen, Active in Business and Public Affairs, and His Place will be Hard to Fill.. Sad Circumstances Surrounding His Sudden Death.

Mr. William F. Peterson died at the home of his brother B. W. Peterson, at Woodsdale, east of the city, some time Wednesday night. He was apparently in as good health as ever Wednesday, and was in town as usual attending to business. He asked to be called early yesterday morning, and when an effort was made to arouse him and he did not respond, his room was entered and he was found dead in bed.

Mr. Walker Peterson, his brother, with whom he had lived for several years at Woodsdale, had left for New York the evening before. Mrs. B. W. Peterson was also absent from home, so that the shockingly sudden death seemed more than usually sad.

Mr. Peterson was about seventy years old, but was very hale for his age. He had some trouble of an asthmatic character at times, and it is supposed that a fit of coughing may have superinduced the trouble which caused his death.

Last evening Dr. Belleville, assisted by Dr. Baird and Dr. Dickey, went out to the residence and held an autopsy. They found no organic trouble of a character to cause death, and decided that he died from heart failure caused by the effects of the trouble referred to.

Mr. Peterson had been an active and useful citizen of Wheeling for many years. He was single, and lived with his brother's family since the death of their mother some time ago. His father, William Fairfield Peterson, Sr., died years ago under much the same circumstances. The father came here from Vermont almost at the beginning of the century, and the family has been prominent in business and in the community generally ever since.

Mr. W. F. Peterson, the son, was his father's successor in the insurance business and for years conducted the most important general insurance agency in West Virginia, part of the time his brother being his partner. The firm made a decided success of the agency and was widely known as reputable and enterprising.

In 1885 Mr. Peterson left the insurance business and went into the iron roofing business with Mr. F. G. Caldwell. The firm of Caldwell & Peterson soon acquired national fame. Later Mr. B. W. Peterson also became interested in it and the concern was incorporated under the name of the Caldwell & Peterson Manufacturing Company. The importance of its plant among the prosperous industries of Wheeling is well known. Mr. Peterson was active in the management of its affairs until a little over a year ago, when he and his brother sold out and he retired from business.

He had served acceptably as a member of the board of county commissioners and was for several terms a member of the city council, where his intelligence and fidelity to duty made him a peculiarly valuable member. He was a consistent and ardent Republican always, a leader in the organization and conduct of the Lincoln club, and always ready to assist to the extent of his ability anything that he thought would farther the interests of the community, his party or mankind. He was an abler man than the general public gave him credit for being, for he never, especially in his later years, sought prominence in any line. He was one of those to whom honor comes uncourted, but those who knew him well held his judgment in high esteem.

He was a member of St. Matthew's Episcopal church, and only recently he and his brother placed a memorial window there in honor of their parents. He was a Mason, also, but his disposition was very domestic, and he was never happier than when with the family circle or with his relatives, and to them the blow of his unexpected death in their absence comes with cruel force.

Mr. Peterson did not look as old as he was, and until very recently was as hale as most men of twenty years younger. He was genial, whole-souled man, best liked by those who knew him best, and the place he has filled in his time will long remain vacant.

Yesterday telegrams were sent out to every point in the east at which is was thought probable that Mr. Peterson's brother might be, but up to a late hour last night he had not been reached. There funeral arrangements cannot be made until he returns.

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