There was an unexpected empty chair at the Snoqualmie City Council meeting on April 10, 2017.
When roll call was taken Monday night, Councilman Peterson’s name was called even though his chair sat empty. It was noted for the record, at the request of his wife, that he was there in spirit. A moment of silence ensued.
The City of Snoqualmie lost a true statesman over the weekend when Charles Peterson passed away in the early morning hours of April 8th at the age of 79.
Charles Peterson was my “Snoqualmie guru.” A person with a deep affection and devotion to his hometown.
‘Chuck’ had a connection to Snoqualmie that drove him to serve multiple city leadership roles, first as a city councilman and then as mayor in the late 60’s through 1981. He then came ‘out of retirement’ in 2004 to serve on city council when his hometown grew large enough to require the council increase from five to seven members. In between he also served on the planning commission.
He chose to serve and offer leadership when the small town he knew rapidly changed and its population center shifted to the hill above his downtown home. He quietly and patiently worked to connect ‘old’ and ‘new’ Snoqualmie.
Charles welcomed us Snoqualmie ‘newbies.’ To him it was one Snoqualmie – and you were welcomed no matter what area you lived in. He may have lived here 60+ years longer than me, but it didn’t matter. He made me feel like his neighbor.
He was a straight shooter, telling it like it was. He asked tough questions. He was kind. He was fair. He never voted as a council member without first thoroughly researching what was on the table.
My fondest memories of Charles are less than two years old. This is when he was being challenged for his city council seat, which he wasn’t too happy about, but he was up to the challenge.
He emailed me to let me know that he had decided he wanted advertise, but that he wanted me to call him so we could discuss all the details. Now, we could’ve just emailed back and forth about banner ad sizes, placement, etc., but we made an appointment to speak by phone.
I am so glad we did. What should’ve been a quick conversation lasted nearly an hour. He had studied the website and decided exactly where he wanted his ad to go – wanted to be clear he was advertising only with me, that he wanted to reach out to my readers.
Then we got to chatting. He wanted to continue on city council, be a voice for young and the old in Snoqualmie. He was not ready to step down – even if his challenger thought he should, that he was too old.
That conversation led to couple of others in the coming months and also a few emails…. and bumping into him and his wife Carol at a local restaurant.
Charles was like a North Star for Snoqualmie, always there to help guide those new to the city. He was a father-figure. He never sugar-coated things for me. If we talked politics, I knew exactly where he stood and whom within our city he might disagree.
I have been a ‘girl without a dad’ for almost ten years now, having lost my dad to cancer in 2008. When you lose your dad, you develop this sixth sense for people who enter your life who possess qualities of the father you miss.
Charles Peterson was one of those people to me, even if for only a brief time. He was quite simply a good person. He was an endearing person. He set an example for many residents – one of service, caring and developing community.
I may not have known him well, or long, but his way of leading by example will never be lost on me. His love for the Snoqualmie Valley won’t ever be lost on me. Through Chuck I learned that you don’t have to be born somewhere for that place to be your hometown. It’s all about what you put into it.
I am grateful.
Charles Peterson is survived by his wife of nearly 55 years, Carol, and two children Julie and Ryan.
A memorial service to celebrate the life of Charles Peterson will be held Saturday, April 15, 2016 at 2PM at Snoqualmie United Methodist Church at 38701 SE River Street.
Donations may be made to The Charles S Peterson City Memorial Fund through Sno Falls Credit Union. The family plans to use the funds to create something in Charles’s honor for the public to enjoy.