The Panhandle State Association of Alumni and Friends announced the selection of the 2022 Honored Family, the Peterson Family. They have had fourteen members across three generations who attended Oklahoma Panhandle State University.
University President Dr. Julie Dinger stated, “I am excited to welcome the Petersons as an Honored Family of the Alumni Association. The Peterson Family are a model of service and commitment to Panhandle State and our region. I am thankful for them and their contributions to our university.”
From humble beginnings, seeing the Dust Bowl firsthand, and growing up in the middle of the Great Depression, Loyd and Norlene Peterson understood the value of an education. They passed this on to their kids, grandkids, and great-grandkids through the years and never took the opportunity to study, work hard, and learn for granted.
Norlene Norris was born on August 3, 1924, and was raised in the Eva Community in Northwest Texas County on the family homestead. She attended Frontier and James rural schools for her early education. However, when she started high school, Norlene moved into Mrs. O’Donnell’s boarding house to attend school in Goodwell. She worked alongside other girls doing housework, laundry, and lots of ironing during the week in exchange for a room and a small salary. She completed coursework at Panhandle State and furthered her education at Oklahoma State University. Norlene’s teaching career began in 1947 with positions at White Hall, Unity, Hardesty, and finally, Guymon Schools, retiring in 1986. In 1991, she participated in a Distance Learning project teaching a math class ahead of her time.
Loyd Peterson was born on July 21, 1924, on his family’s farm South of Guymon. He attended Prairie View School and graduated from Guymon High School in 1946, a few years delayed due to WWII.
Loyd and Norlene were married on May 20, 1949, meeting while teaching school at Unity. They enjoyed 63 years of marriage based on family, faith, church, and community, with a lot of added patience and humor.
After graduating from Panhandle State in 1951, Loyd furthered his education by attending Mortuary College in Dallas. He began a career in the funeral business in 1952 with a friend and partner, Marlin Henson, in the Henson Funeral Home. Loyd, known as Pete to many, served the community until retiring in 1990.
All three of their children attended and graduated from OPSU. Wynelda (1972) and her husband, Curtis Miller (1978), earned degrees in Elementary Education and had long careers at Optima Schools as teachers and administration. Kim (1974) and his wife, Melissa Peterson (1981), graduated with degrees in Industrial Arts and Elementary Education. Kye finished his degree in Industrial Arts in 1978.
The Petersons are extremely proud that all seven of their grandchildren and their spouses pursued college degrees, and several earned advanced degrees.
“Oklahoma Panhandle State University has always been a special place for the Peterson Family, and we are Panhandle Proud,” stated Kim Peterson.
Their great-grandchildren are carrying on this legacy as three have earned their college degrees, four are currently attending college across the state, and the remaining are dreaming of where they will land upon high school graduation or maybe first grade graduation.
Loyd and Norlene dedicated their lives to education and were always teachers, tutoring and helping adults in reading classes and leading Sunday School sessions at the First Christian Church. The Petersons reared and helped many kids in addition to their own family. Loyd and Norlene employed, encouraged, mentored, fed, and housed many students. Loyd’s quick mind, sense of humor, practical joking, and Norlene’s good home cooking and loving patience helped generations of young students.
Alumni Association Interim President Katie Quebedeaux stated, “The Peterson family has been a staple in our community for years. Their love for OPSU has never wavered, and we are grateful to recognize their dedication and support of our Aggie family!”
Director of Alumni Relations Shawn Joy, stated, “We are excited to honor the Peterson family. They have given so much to OPSU through the years. They deserve to be recognized and celebrated.”