Dennis Ray Petersen
Like you maybe, I’m sitting here thinking about what to write for this very special bio after realizing that 50 years have passed, being almost completely disconnected from the kids that shared many of the same experiences day in and day out in Alhambra with me during those happy years 1960-1964. In the mean time I’ve been privileged to live what seems like three lifetimes of extraordinary experiences.
I sincerely hope I’ll get to rekindle acquaintances with many old friends and make new friends with some of the wonderful people I was never privileged to meet while in high school. After high school my first ‘lifetime’ really got launched at Sacramento State College, where I fell in love with California History, worked at Sutter’s Fort and Old Sacramento and earned by BS in Environmental Resources/Park Management, minoring in History. I even worked on a special project with Dr. Neasham to try to get Howard Hughes to support the dream to turn Virginia City, Nevada into a National Historic District.
The dream life continued for me with a scholarship to attend grad school in upstate New York, earning my Master’s in Historical Museum Administration and American Folk Culture from the Cooperstown Grad School of State University of New York – Oneonta, NY. What a blast that was, learning how to interpret history through living museums like Williamsburg, Virginia and Plimoth Plantation, Massachusetts – where the Pilgrims pioneered the new world. Would you believe we had classes in building wilderness shelters and traditional historic crafts like butchering hogs? The most fun was spinning ‘donuts’ with my VW on the frozen Lake Otsego in the winter while the old guys fished in their ice shanties.
It took the army two draft physicals to finally believe I had asthma before they 4F’d me so I could drive back to California from NY to take a primo job as the Curator of the San Jose Historical Museum. I got to master plan the new outdoor museum site, design and build a whole new museum exhibition and spend three years leading several hundred volunteers to establish a new Association of museum supporters for the first capitol city of California.
That’s when my next life took me on a completely unanticipated new course. From the time I was 5 I remember always having a spiritually sensitive nature and keen awareness of how blessed to be living in a land that God had providentially allowed to create the most prosperous nation in history. John F. Kennedy’s book, Profiles in Courage, probably played a part in that. How I got to Canada is a story we’ll have to share later, but suffice to say that my thirst for deeper spiritual understanding of the meaning and purpose of being a Christian was immensely enhanced by attending a little Bible college out in the middle of what seemed like the end of the world in Saskatchewan, Canada. I met my wife there. We brought three children into this world there, and opportunities opened there providentially to teach at the college and then start traveling to present multi-media seminars on science and history from a providential Biblical perspective.
After living in Canada 8 years, we moved to northern California to begin another life that continues, over 30 years later, down to the present day. Teaching seminars, speaking at conferences, traveling all over the country and the world, publishing books, having a bestselling nonfiction book for three decades and conducting dinosaur digs and special events for years have made for an exciting life where our 4 kids got to experience places and activities that kids like me would only have dreamed about when I was young.
Now we’re focusing more on our growing clan of grandkids while I help radio listeners in our area Reclaim Their Legacy and work to help people discover more sensible ways to live healthier and more prosperously in all areas of wellness.
Our 50th reunion has prompted me to reconnect with one of my old buddies from high school and grade school, George Dodd. We did Cub Scouts together, Post Advocate newspaper routes together and rode our bikes all over Alhambra and South Pasadena, in a society where everybody was your friend and we had no idea how blessed we were to awake every morning to one of the happiest times in history in one of the most pleasant climates on earth.
For one who has been adventuring for so many years, I can’t wait to listen to YOUR story about all the memories, hopes and dreams you’ve enjoyed along your journey of life. Reading the stories that some of my classmates have written on this website already has been a super blessing. Looking into the eyes of all those beautiful faces of classmates with so much energy and enthusiasm for the future reminds me of the “Wonderful Life” that ‘George Bailey’ (Jimmy Stewart) discovered in that allegory that brings all of us to the realization that this world wouldn’t be the same without each one of us contributing the unique, God-given gifts and experiences that have been worked through our individual lives… touching people in extraordinary ways designed by Providence to enrich and enhance the lives of others.
Park School in eastern Alhambra was our little ‘grammer’ school from 3rd grade through 8th … filled with happy memories of growing up.
Connect with me at email@example.com See my new blog at www.dennisrpetersen.com See my radio blog at www.ReclaimYourLegacy.com Friend me at https://www.facebook.com/dennisrpetersen
My dear wife, Viola Petersen, is attending reunion with me. She captured my heart while I was focusing on God, the Bible and class studies in Canada… and she consented to marry me after just a few months of courting. Our outdoor wedding in Banff Alberta, Canada with the mighty Rocky Mountains surrounding us, is a memory that sealed our magical life together for 40 years now. Vi is a true mama. She is a super seamstress and sewing instructor. She’s traveled with me all over the land and cooks memorable dinner parties for friends and family while giving our grandkids a grand experience of having a truly ‘grand’ mother.
After surviving Pearl Harbor as a Navy sailor, my Dad was a policeman for the Alhambra Police Department from 1955 until he retired on disability in 1973. Mom worked at Berean Christian Bookstore on Garfield Ave. in Alhambra while I was in high school. My brother graduated from Alhambra High two years after me and went right to work for the Alhambra Post Office until he retired 5 years ago after over 43 years. He still lives in the same house we grew up in since 1955 when we moved from Temple City. My mom and dad both graduated from Alhambra High. Mom was born in Alhambra in Grandma’s house on Cedar Street where I spent a lot of time during my early years.
Ever since dad gave me the first real adult book I ever read at about age 13 when I began high school (Dale Carnegie’s ‘How To Win Friends and Influence People’) I’ve had a growing passion for helping others discover how to become better equipped to live the life they were created for. My radio show – Reclaiming Your Legacy – in Sacramento allows me to expand on that along with the marketing work that I am privileged to do in working with leadership teams in the wellness industry.
Special interests enjoyed during the last half century? – leading dinosaur digs in various western states and Canada; helping students discover their true heritage and purpose in life; learning, writing and teaching on so many interesting topics in hundreds of places all over the country
Favorite AHS Memory? Mr. Sheridan was the band and choir director then and my four years of choir was a total delight. When he invited me to join the Chorale (a smaller select vocal group) I was excited about developing my voice for singing many kinds of music. This helped improve my self-confidence to overcome the teen acne and red hair (that wasn’t so cool back then as it is now).
What are your favorite books or movies? Besides the Bible, I thrive on personal development books like Jack Canfield’s “The Success Principles” and John Maxwell’s many leadership books. My top movies are “the Ultimate Gift,” “Pursuit of Happyness,” “Man of LaMancha,” “Camelot,” “Fiddler on the Roof,” “The Blind Side,” “The Gods Must Be Crazy,” “Remember the Titans,” “Facing The Giants, “God of Wonders,” “The Sound of Music,” and too many more to list…
What were your favorite songs or artists from 1960 to 1964. The Lettermen Trio, Paul Anka, Chubby Checker, The Ventures, Henry Mancini, Elvis Presley, Ray Charles, Bobby Rydell, Ferrante and Teicher, Connie Francis, Andy Williams, Dione, Bobby Vee, Lawrence Welk, Johnny Cash, Bobby Darrin, Connie Francis, Frank Sinatra, The Monkeys, Percy Faith, Roy Orbison, Frankie Avalon, Louie Armstrong and of course The Beatles, The Beach Boys plus too many more to list.
What genre of music and type of dance do you enjoy most? I enjoy the soft rock of the 60s but easy listening light classics of Andre’ Rieu and Pops orchestras like Mantovani are truly inspiring; and my favorite all time choice is anything Baroque.
How do you spend your quality time? Reading, writing, and creating content for programs, publications or shows.
In your life thus far, what stands out as most significant, growth-producing, moving, or heart-opening? There’s no question that the most significant and growth-producing phenomena of my life is the life-changing realization and acceptance of the redemption that I was called to serve the Master of Creation, Jesus Christ, and live life abundantly in the service of the Lord of lords. Increasing in the personal knowledge of Him is what makes life make sense in a world of confusion and pain.
As I look into the future, and consider my aspirations, hopes and dreams, my primary focus is on family and the legacy of influencing my own kids and grandkids in ways that will empower them to be a positive influence for eternity on the lives of others. As the Lord gives me strength, I hope to help many others through my work to discover the blessings of creativity, productivity and wellness in all its many aspects.
Knowing that one of the greatest shocks we will ever discover is the reality of what we could have accomplished but didn’t because of lack of vision, determination and action – I plan on writing at least one more significant book that can be widely marketed through the Legacy brand that I’ve been developing and help others with a desire to influence many through their leadership and coaching in personal growth, physical wellness and financial independence.
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