Benita Adeline Peterson, 80, West Fargo, died Monday, Nov. 26, 2018, at Lilac Homes Memory Care, Moorhead, with family by her side.
Adeline Engelhart was born March 13, 1938, near Venturia, N.D., the second youngest child of Magdalena (Schumacher) and John Engelhart. She grew up near Zeeland, N.D., with her three sisters and one brother, helping on the family farm. Her first language was German and she learned English while attending a one-room school. She loved reading and academics, even skipping ahead a grade. Adeline graduated as co-valedictorian from Zeeland High School in 1955.
In 1956, Adeline moved to Miles City, Mont., to work as a switchboard operator at Holy Rosary Hospital. Later that year she moved to Aberdeen, S.D., and joined the Sisters of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, talking the name Sister Mary Benita. She graduated in 1959 from Presentation Junior College in Aberdeen, with a two-year degree in secretarial science. Benita continued to take classes at the college for another year. She worked as a medical secretary at St. Luke’s Hospital, Aberdeen, from 1960 to 1962. Benita then attended Saint Louis University and graduated in 1964 with a Bachelor of Science in Medical Record Science. She returned to Aberdeen, where she worked as the director of the medical records department at St. Luke’s Hospital from 1964 to 1970. Benita worked as a director of medical records at Holy Rosary Hospital in Miles City, for one year before taking a medical records job at a clinic in Grand Forks, N.D. in 1971. In 1972, Benita returned to lay life but her faith continued to be a very important part of her life. In 1973, Benita took a job as medical records librarian at St. John’s Hospital, Fargo, where she worked for several years.
Benita married Dwain Elmer Peterson Dec. 11, 1976, in Fargo. They welcomed their first son, Jason Dwain Peterson, Oct. 22, 1977. Their second son, Dean Paul Peterson, was born prematurely July 17, 1979 and died Oct. 1, 1979. Dwain and Benita farmed near Colfax, N.D., for many years. Benita managed the farm finances while also working medical records for Elim Nursing Home and later the Fargo VA Health Care System, both Fargo. They were very involved with St. Maurice’s Church in Kindred, N.D., and Jason’s activities growing up, including Boy Scouts, 4-H and music. Benita enjoyed traveling, reading, attending community events, making crafts, and visiting with friends and family. She was a fabulous cook and kept a large garden.
In 2004, Dwain and Benita sold the family farm and moved to West Fargo. They joined Holy Cross Catholic Church, West Fargo. Benita volunteered at the library, they were active in the community and they loved traveling together. She later loved spending time with their grandchildren, Natalie and Gavin Peterson.
Benita was diagnosed with dementia in 2016. She moved to nursing home care in 2017.
Benita is survived by her husband of almost 42 years, Dwain Peterson, Fargo; her son, Jason (Amanda) Peterson, Moorhead; her grandchildren, Natalie Peterson and Gavin Peterson, Moorhead; two brothers-in-laws, Bill Streifel, Aberdeen, S.D., and Cal Zundel, San Luis Obispo, Calif.; two sisters-in-law, Marcella (Volk) Streifel, Bismarck, N.D., and Cyrella (Wangler) Engelhart, Hazelton, N.D.; and many loved nieces, nephews and friends. She was preceded in death by a son, Dean Peterson; her parents, John and Magdalena Engelhart; her sisters, Marie (Engelhart) Streifel, Dolores (Engelhart) Streifel and Marcella (Engelhart) Zundel; her brother, John Engelhart; a sister-in-law, Rosella (Marquart) Engelhart; and a brother-in-law, Francis Streifel.
There will be a visitation from 6-7:00 PM with a prayer service following at 7:00 PM on Thursday, Nov. 29, at Boulger Funeral Home and Celebration of Life Center, Fargo. The funeral Mass will be at 2:00 PM on Friday, Nov. 30, at Riverview Place Chapel, 5300 12th St. S., Fargo with a visitation one hour prior. Burial at Holy Cross Cemetery North, Fargo.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks for donations to Hospice of the Red River Valley, Aberdeen Presentation Sisters or God’s Child Project.