American Patriotic 10

Fred D. Petersen

May 2, 1928 ~ June 11, 2021 (age 93)


Fred D. Petersen, 93, longtime Ellensburg resident, passed away at his home on Friday, June 11, 2021. Per Fred’s request, no formal services will be held.

Fred was born on May 2, 1928 in Spokane, Washington, one of none children, five of which were born to Walt & Bertha (Feuston) Petersen, and four half siblings when his Mother remarried Wes Clements..  He grew up in Spokane until 1941 when the family moved to Olympia where Fred graduated high school in 1946. During the Depression, Fred worked any job that he could find to save money to go to college including logging, welding at the Tacoma shipyards, bakers helper, and for a moving company. 

Fred attended several colleges while pursuing his degree in Education.  He started at Washington State University after being awarded a football scholarship, but after being injured had to relinquish the scholarship.  From there, Fred did whatever jobs he could get, wherever he could find them, and when he had the money to attend college, would go.  This gave him the opportunity to attend Eastern Washington University, Central Washington University, where he gained his Bachelor’s degree  in Education, and finally, a Master’s degree, from Western Washington University in 1969. It was while attending Central Washington University that he met his future wife, Patricia Joan “Jo” Clark.  They married in 1949.  

Fred served our country honorably in the armed forces, starting out of high school with the National Guard and transitioning to the Marine Air Corps until his honorable discharge when they disbanded. He joined the United States Navy in 1951 and served in both Korea and Vietnam as a First Lieutenant.  During his 15 year career in the Navy, Fred was stationed, amongst other places, in Hawaii, Virginia, California, and Japan.  During his service he served also in the Korean war, and Viet Nam.

Following his retirement from the service, Fred and Jo bought a small farm in Bellingham before buying a larger farm in Custer. Fred began teaching at Silver Beach for a couple of years before accepting a position at Whatcom Middle School until his retirement.  He was honored as “Coach of the Year” in 1986.  Following retirement from teaching, Fred and Jo moved to Ellensburg, where he and Jo met.

Fred is survived by his daughter Tammy Yeakey and daughter in law Kris Petersen.  In addition to his parents and siblings, Fred was preceded in death by his wife, Jo, in 2011 as well as five children - Cynthia Jane, Eric Eugene, twin boys James and John as well as son Forrest Michael.  He had no grandchildren, but many nieces and nephews who will miss him dearly.

Memorial contributions are suggested to the Kittitas County Veteran’s Coalition, the Gretchen Weller Foundation or Hospice Friends.  Johnston & Williams Funeral Home and Crematory of Ellensburg has been entrusted with caring for Fred’s family.  Online condolences may be left at

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