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Carole Elaine Tuttle Petersen died from natural causes on July 16, 2021 at home at The Pillars in Mankato, Minnesota. At the moment of her transition she was being embraced by daughter, Julie, and husband, Dwain, to whom she’d been married for 66 loving and adventure-filled years. Carole and Dwain were a team until the end. As Carole’s life on earth was coming to a close, Dwain was heard to say, ‘These are the saddest days of my life.’
Carole was born on September 27, 1934 in Sioux City, Iowa to Harold and Florence Tuttle. She and her big sister, Lois, grew up on the family farm outside of Laurel, Nebraska, where she would sit at the end of the gravel lane on Highway 20, watching the cars and trucks whiz by, dreaming of big adventures. Her dream came true.
Carole graduated from Laurel High School in 1952, where she was voted prom queen, played drums in the band and participated in the state speech tournament, earning an excellent rating in original oratory. Anyone who knew Carole, knew she was a talker, so that last tidbit should come as no surprise. After high school, Carole attended Wayne State College in Wayne, Nebraska, where her fellow classmate, Dwain Petersen, nominated her for Queen of the Green. He admits he was just trying to get a date with the cutie with the big smile from Laurel. It worked. For excitement, the two would drive up and down the main drag, timing it to hit all the green lights. She graduated from Wayne State College in 1954, earning her teaching certificate. Following graduation, Carole taught in a one-room school in nearby Tilden, Nebraska, while waiting for her fiance', Dwain, to graduate.
On June 5, 1955, Carole and Dwain were married in Laurel. Dwain joined the Navy and the adventures began. Following stints at naval stations in Newport, Rhode Island and Great Lakes, Illinois, the young couple set sail with their newborn son, Brian, for Ewa Beach, Hawaii, where Dwain served as a navigator, flying to and from Midway Island while Carole prepared for the birth of their second son, Tod. In Hawaii, Dwain learned to play the ukulele and Carole learned to hula. Forever after, the two would entertain their children with their Hawaiian song and dance routine. Aloha!
In 1959, they landed in Minburn, Iowa. While Dwain taught high school music and earned his Master’s degree from Drake University, Carole focused on raising her rambunctious boys. Next stop, Lincoln, Nebraska, where Dwain earned his Doctorate and Carole gave birth to their first daughter, fun-loving Julie Jo in 1963. It was a busy time, but Carole found time to continue her education, attending night classes at the University of Nebraska. In 1964 they moved to Mankato, Minnesota, where Dwain accepted a position at Minnesota State University. Mankato has been their beloved home ever since. It was where their second daughter, AmyAnn, adorable and adored, completed the family in 1970. Carole was a very active member of Centenary United Methodist Church, serving suppers at the Wednesday night youth activities and playing in the bell choir. She became one of the first female members of the local Kiwanis Club and enjoyed many years in PEO. She was involved in her children’s activities, including Cub Scouts, Brownies, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts and 4H. The family loved to camp and spent many weeks every summer tenting, hiking, fishing, exploring, singing around the fire, burning marshmallows. They also enjoyed the one room cabin with the outhouse on Duck Lake, before Carole and Dwain built the comparatively palatial log cabin on Madison Lake, both near Mankato.
Carole continued her education. She completed her Bachelor’s degree in 1974 and earned her Master’s in Sociology in 1979. What followed was one of the richest experiences of Carole’s life, when she became the Assistant Director of the International Student Office at Minnesota State, Mankato. From 1979-1996 she assisted students from all over the world, helping them with the intricacies of their student visas and financial aid, as well as their many international festivals and dinners. Carole’s students appreciated her warm and kind attention and many claimed her as a second mother. When Carole and Dwain retired from the University they embarked on a two and a half month world tour, visiting many of her former students in their home countries. Carole has children all over the world.
Here’s an incomplete list of some of the places the little dreamer at the end of the gravel lane has visited: Machu Picchu, the Galapagos Islands, the Holy Land, Taiwan, South Korea, Turkey, South Africa, Kenya, Morocco, Alaska, Panama, Costa Rica and County Cork, Ireland where she kissed the Blarney Stone in honor of her dear Irish mother. Over the years, Carole and Dwain returned to Hawaii many times, spent 10 years wintering in Arizona and loved taking trips to Branson, Missouri with Carole’s dear friend, Dwain’s sister, Donna.
Carole loved all people. She was an outspoken advocate and loving ally for the LGBTQIA+ community. Carole and Dwain helped start their local PFLAG chapter and one year were the grand marshals in the Mankato Pride Fest parade.
In recent years, Carole has given her heart to the Aktion Club Theatre of Mankato, a theater program for people with disabilities. Always encouraging, her official title was Beloved Cheerleader.
Carole cherished her friendships. Four couples, the Websters, Janovys, Ralstons and Petersens met while 7 of them were students at Wayne State College (Polly Webster was forgiven for attending the University of Nebraska) and they all ended up in Mankato; all four husbands at Minnesota State. The happy group celebrated each of their birthdays together and the husbands would throw an annual Sweetheart’s Dinner, when they would wreck the kitchen and cook for their wives. Darlene and Carole are now gone. But over 65 years later, Bill and Polly, Doug and Jane, Dave and Dwain are still looking out for each other. Forever friends.
Carole is survived by her husband Dwain; children Brian, Pam, Tod, Ryan, Julie, AmyAnn and Tim; grandchildren Claire, Travis, Sean, Cora, Isak, Jack and Grace Elaine; great-grandchildren Ray and Jacob; sister Lois; many nieces and nephews and their children and grandchildren; and her favorite Irish cousin, Billy. Those two have been laughing about something or other for well over 80 years.
Carole’s Celebration of Life will be held at Northview Mortuary in North Mankato, Minnesota at 11am, Thursday, July 22, 2021. Visitation from 9:30 to 11am. A lunch will follow. The service will be livestreamed at www.mankatomortuary.com
Donations can be made to The Carole Petersen International Student Endowed Scholarship, Minnesota State University, Mankato. Carole donated her body to the University of Minnesota Medical School.
Thursday, July 22, 2021
9:30 - 11:00am (Central time)
Thursday, July 22, 2021
Starts at 11:00am (Central time)
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