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South Dakota Ag News Headlines
SDFU Honors Peterson with Rural Dakota Pride Award
South Dakota Ag Connection - 09/14/2020

For years, De Smet native Sharon J. Peterson had heard community members say it would be nice to commemorate local veterans with statues on the courthouse lawn.

Not one to wait for others when something needs to be done in her community, Peterson took action. "I put an ad in the newspaper and asked for donations and they came pouring in."

The result of Peterson's organization and generous community donations is a veterans park where all can take a few moments to pay their respects to local heroes and reflect upon their service to our country. "Veterans have always had a special place in my heart. My husband, dad, brother and uncles have all served," she explains. "Veterans play a big part in this country, so it is nice that our community can be reminded of the sacrifices they made."

Peterson tears up as she visits about her appreciation for veterans, apologizes and shares what those who know and love her already know, "my tears are always close to my eyelids."

Even before she retired from a nearly 40-year career working for the Farmers Home Administration, Peterson began sharing her many talents, hobbies and passions with De Smet. De Smet has always been her home.

A historian and vocalist with a knack for writing, Peterson has written musicals together with her husband, Rollo. She has then directed local talent to put on performances community members can enjoy during special events like De Smet's annual Old Settlers Day. She also served as stage manager for the Laura Ingalls Wilder Pageant.

Peterson combines her interest in history with her hobby of antique collecting to put together historically informative window displays in Main Street businesses and the local library. Her displays provide information on everything from antique wedding dresses and dishes to antique aprons and more.

Working to protect local history, Peterson has spent hours cataloguing antiques for the local city museum -- some paid and some volunteer. She also puts on historical programming around her collections.

"I just think it's good to be reminded of where we come from. By showing antiques you can do this," explains Peterson, who also served as co-chair of De Smet's South Dakota Centennial Committee.

Whether it is local history or fairy tales, Peterson enjoys bringing stories to life. For more than 30 years, De Smet kindergarteners have gotten to know her as Pricilla Pilgrim, Mrs. Claus, Mrs. McGregor, Mother Goose and Larry Leprechaun. And to encourage youth to read, she designs displays for the local library. She has also been quite active in the United Methodist Church, serving in several local and conference offices.

Volunteer activities and projects, she explains, are her "bailiwick" "it's my thing to do."

In 2018, the De Smet community recognized Peterson and Rollo for their contributions, asking the couple to serve as Marshalls for the Old Settler's Day Parade.

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