101-year old : ‘No one should live that long’

Once chocolate no longer tastes good to you, what’s the point of living?

Verne Petersen died over the summer in Norfolk, Neb., and a memorial service will be held Saturday.

His obituary, forwarded to us from reader Julie Barton, suggests he’s in a better place.

NORFOLK — Services for Verne Petersen, 101, Norfolk, will be at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 29, at Stonacek Funeral Chapel in Norfolk. The Rev. Terry Buol will officiating. Inurnment will be at Prospect Hill Cemetery in Norfolk. Military rites will be provided by the American Legion Post 16. V.F.W. Post 1644, both of Norfolk, the U.S. Army Honors Guard and the Nebraska American Legion Riders.

Visitation with the family present will be 5-7 p.m. Friday, also at the funeral chapel.

He died Tuesday, July 10, 2018, at the Norfolk Veterans Home in Norfolk.


Verne Petersen decided enough was enough on July 10, 2018, just eight days before his spouse’s birthday and 41 days before their 70th wedding anniversary.

When you are reduced to drinking tepid, thickened coffee and chocolate no longer tastes good, it is time to go. Plus it gave him the best excuse for not acknowledging his spouse’s birthday or their anniversary. (She was the proud recipient of a new dust pan one year.) He was 101 years and four months, and it was his opinion that no one should live that long.

Verne was born in Huron, S.D., on Feb. 25, 1917, to a Danish father and a Norwegian mother. He never understood why they gave him a name neither could pronounce and most people misspelled. In later life, he grew to appreciate using this as a screening tool for unwanted solicitations.

Verne took a job with the Chicago & Northwestern Railway in September 1938. He was transferred to Norfolk in July of 1940 and drafted and inducted into the U.S. Army in August 1941, where he served until Oct. 23, 1945. When offered the opportunity to make the Army his career, he emphatically declined and returned to his job with the railroad. He continued to work for the railroad until his retirement in July 1977.

Verne married Anna Lorenzen on Aug. 22, 1948. He was amazed and thankful until the day he died that she said yes. (His Army buddies were also shocked.) Some of his final words were his vow to love her “forever and always.” They raised five children together. He made countless trips to Lincoln, helping children move into and out of dorm rooms and apartments with a minimum of complaints.

Verne enjoyed making himself laugh, and it didn’t matter if anyone else got the joke. Laurel and Hardy, W.C. Fields, Fred Allen, Rube Goldberg and James Thurber were some of his favorite humorists. He liked playing with words and could turn anything into a curse. He would talk in song lyrics just to amuse himself and then quiz people on the rest of the lyrics to the songs.

Verne was a collector of stamps (before the infamous chicken stamp honoring the poultry association), arrowheads, coins, fossils, guns, interesting rocks, bits of metal, gears, doorknobs, etc. He liked to share his collections, and if visitors were not careful, they would often find their vehicles a little heavier when they left.

Survivors include his patient, long-suffering spouse, Anna Petersen of Norfolk; a daughter, Karen (James) Imler of St. Louis, Mo.; a daughter, Helen Petersen of Portland, Ore.; a son, Alan (Melinda) Petersen of Overland Park, Kan.; his grandchildren: Fred (Nichole) Petersen, David (Rhianon Kaye) Imler, Sandy (Trish) Petersen, Douglas Imler and Sarah (Karlene) Petersen; his great-grandchildren: Hannah, Olive, Owen, Ellie, Albert, Marah, Toby and Carter; and his sisters-in-law, Catherine Hansen, Alice Bradley and Betty Lorenzen.

Verne was preceded in death by his parents; his mother-in-law, Catherine (Hoos) Lorenzen; his dog, Sport; his sister, Bernice Petersen; his cat, Cat Ballou; his replacement cat, Stupid Cat; his sons, Loren and Steven Petersen; his daughter-in-law, Edith Petersen; most of his classmates; his army buddies; his eye sight, hearing and most of his teeth; six brothers-in-law, John Lorenzen, Chris Roth, Brad Bradley, Elmer Hansen, Herman Hansen and Carsten Lorenzen; his filter; most of his coworkers on the Cheap and Nothing Wasted Railway; his sisters-in law, Ruth Hansen and Mildred Lorenzen; all his cars; and most of his cousins. When you live to be over 101, the list gets pretty long.

Condolences may be expressed to the family online at www.stonacekfuneralchapel.com.

  • Barton

    I do love that he was preceeded in death by “his filter.” I think we all know those people (and we may be those people too!)

    • crystals

      I loved that too – along with his most of his teeth! Verne sounds like a kick, and a hearty round of applause to whomever wrote his obituary for helping us get a tiny glimpse of him.

      • Jack

        I’m hoping that he was in on the writing.

  • Angry Jonny

    I think my dad would agree. If he didn’t have cookies, I think he’d slip off this mortal coil.

    • Barton

      my grandmom’s boyfriend is 101. I expect without his Jameson’s and his Oreos he’d see little reason to remain too. (grandmom is 94 btw).

      • chlost

        And, oh, how I love that he is her “boyfriend” at 101. That’s awesome.

        • Kassie

          Sort of unrelated, but that’s the problem with adult relationships. I’m 41 years old, have been with the same man for six years and the best word I have to describe him is boyfriend. Sometimes I say partner. I have a friend who calls her long time boyfriend her fiance, though they will never get married. There needs to be a better word for that person you live with (or not) who you love deeply and share everything in life with, who you are not married to.

          • Francis Rose

            Some people say significant other (SO).

  • Bridget L.

    I love obituaries but they can be so bittersweet to read about someone you would have love to have met. Verne seemed like one of the good ones.

  • boB from WA

    //”…the Cheap and Nothing Wasted Railway,…” – Have never heard of the Chicago and Northwestern referred to this way. Given what I’ve heard and read about, it is an apt moniker. Good that he was able to make a career out of it.