Calvin (Cal) Peterson '58
Cal Peterson’s parents felt a Christian education was a ‘must’ for their children and sent Cal and his seven siblings to Minnehaha Academy. They grew up on a farm in rural Stillwater, about 45 minutes away. The first year, his oldest sister lived with a family in Northeast Minneapolis for a year and took a bus to school. The next year, she got her driver’s license, and began driving her siblings. From then on, one of the siblings drove the others. At that time, there were no freeways and little traffic.
From a one room schoolhouse to MA
Cal went to school in a one-room schoolhouse through eighth grade, where one year he only had one classmate. “It was a big change to go from a one room school to MA, but academically I fit right in.” One of his favorite teachers was Martha Pearson, who taught World History. They studied World War II and a fellow classmate said to Mrs. Pearson, “The US has never lost a war, have they?” She replied, “Does anyone win in a war?” Cal will never forget those words.
After graduating from MA, he spent eight years on the farm working with his Dad. A younger brother also wanted to work the farm, but the family farm was not big enough to support all three families. Their neighbor had a construction business and after Cal decided to leave farming, he was hired immediately and started the next Monday. “I stayed with that company for almost 38 years. I had all kinds of jobs: my first job was to get hay for the insulation on the footings and then clear out the hay when they were done. I started doing carpentry work and it served me well--I learned a lot and am very thankful for the owner, Bob Hagstrom, who encouraged me every step of the way.”
The legacy of Covenant Pines Bible Camp in Cal's life
A few of Cal’s siblings went to camp at Covenant Pines Bible Camp. While Cal was in high school, he had driven his brother and sister up there several times. As a young adult, he volunteered at camp for a week in the summer of 1960 while Sarmita Priede ‘61 was on staff. Cal’s aunt Elsie, who had volunteered in the kitchen the week before, told him, “You need to look up a gal named Sarmita.” They were married August of 1965. “Meeting Sarmita at Covenant Pines is an honor and a debt that I will never be able to repay.”
A life of service
Cal began doing regular volunteer work, mainly with woodworking and building, at Covenant Pines. He made a commitment in 1993 to be up there one weekend a month year-round. “I enjoyed the work so much. Not all of us are gifted at preaching, but we all have a gift and can help. Lives are changed at camp. I am blessed to have been a part of that. I’ve worked up there all my adult life.” Sarmita likes to say that her husband goes off to work with ‘The Carpenter’ every day, hand in hand.
Cal and Sarmita are now retired and spend most of their time volunteering. He continues to do woodworking at Covenant Pines and for their church, Salem Covenant. He also serves at Loaves and Fishes and at the ReStore with Habitat for Humanity. “We never had wealth, but we are very content. God has been very gracious.”