By Rob Daniel
Iowa City Press-Citizen
Saturday, October 28, 2006
WEST BRANCH -- Friday would have been Cecil and Bernice Petersen's
63rd wedding anniversary.
However, Bernice Petersen died April 2. Cecil Petersen decided to
remember his wife, a 1943 West Branch High graduate, by donating
$100,000 to the West Branch Education Foundation. The gift is the
largest in memory in the history of the school district,
superintendent Craig Artest said.
"I just wanted her to be remembered," Petersen said as he held a
framed photograph of himself with his wife.
Bernice Hayslette graduated from West Branch High in spring 1943 and
married Cecil Petersen in October 1943. He soon left home to serve
in the Army and both received monetary allotments from the federal
government for his service. He signed over about 90 percent of his
money to her.
"She had every dime when I came home," Petersen said. "She never
talked about it. She never spent a dime."
The allotment grew with interest over the next 60 years as the
couple raised eight daughters.
"She was a wonderful woman," he said. "She always believed in
Petersen said they spoke often about donating money to a cause, and
the West Branch Schools always remained a possibility. Several
months after she died, he decided to donate the money to the schools
on their wedding anniversary.
"I said that would be a good day, a day I wouldn't forget," he said.
The money will be used for scholarships and other items yet to be
determined, Artest said.
"It gives kids other chances to succeed and gives them a future," he
Petersen said he is confident Bernice would have appreciated the
"I hope this all comes to good," he said. "I know she would be
Reach Rob Daniel at 339-7360 or firstname.lastname@example.org.