On Sunday August 9th, the world lost a genuine cowboy.
Bill Peterson, cowboy, farmer, husband, father, grandfather, and friend to hundreds of lucky people, passed away in his sleep. He had suffered from multiple neurological memory issues for the past few years and had only recently given up farming and caring for his land and cattle in Welling, Alberta. He was privileged to spend his entire life working the family land he loved. Bill worked alongside his father for many years on their homestead that was established in 1901. Mirra and Eldon Peterson welcomed Bill to their family on September 28, 1949, the 4th child and first son in a family that would eventually welcome another son and two more daughters. Bill was always happiest outside with the animals and he had countless dogs and horses throughout his life. He was an animal “whisperer” and had the ability to calm and tame raccoons, deer and even a baby buffalo. Any animal was always welcome at the dog dish and there would often be dogs, cats, calves and baby deer eating out of the same bowl.
Bill married Shelley Wilkes in 1977 and they raised 5 amazing children: Melissa (Dan McKendrick), Paige (Brent Stock), Eric (Heather Karren), Chad (Mary Adamson) and Lindsay (Logan Funk), and 14 wonderful grandchildren. Bill could not have found a better wife than Shelley. She has supported him in rodeoing and ranching, in his love of animals, and his numerous church, community, and county responsibilities. She has been a loving and tireless caregiver for the past several years. She is a saint.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has always been a major part of Bill’s life. As a young man he served a 2-year mission for the Church in Illinois and learned to serve others and work hard teaching the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ. He also served as a scoutmaster for many years. The Welling troop was always the “hot spot” in the camp as the other scouts gravitated to the activities and gourmet steak dinners Bill prepared. One scout commented many years later, “nobody could ever outrun Bill’s Lariat!” Being roped by Bill was a sign of his affection!
Bill was a very sensitive and perceptive spouse. He supported Shelley in any commitments she made that required extra hands, whether it be building, cooking, or delivering items. Shelley always knew she could accept any assignment, because she felt confident in his support.
Bill enjoyed taking his kids in the tractor during planting and harvest. There was often a little bed fashioned by the back window for any small passenger to lookout in comfort. A real highlight was when a child could pack a lunch and spend most of the day in the field with Dad. He spent countless hours in the barn with his kids and grandkids getting horses ready for rides, gathering kittens to play with, and feeding orphaned calves. Bill also spent winter evenings in the gym supporting his family’s sporting activities.
Bill was known for his Rodeo Career. Starting bareback riding in high school and winning himself a scholarship to Ricks college, where he was president of the rodeo association. He also participated in calf roping and then eventually settled on steer wrestling where he excelled and won many titles, including the NSPRA World Championship. He owned and trained several famous horses, and he was generous in lending them to many young cowboys who were anxious to learn. Amateur riders were happy to learn tips and tricks from Cowboy Bill.
Bill loved getting “the farm news” at the Magrath Co-Op after a quick stopover for a fountain Coke at the Blue Goose. He loved trips to town and catching up with all his farming, ranching, and rodeo friends.
He had a genuine understated love for all who knew him. As one of his grandsons who is currently serving a mission wrote, "My grandpa was a man of God with solid integrity. One day I hope to be as great as him. He was loved by his family and he will be missed."
A drive by “Meet the Family” will be held on Friday August 14, from 7-8:30 pm at the Peterson homestead in Welling for those wishing to offer their condolences.
To send flowers to William's family, please visit our floral store.