Charles Peterson

January 30, 1927 — May 10, 2017

Charles S. Peterson, “Chas,” 90, passed away on Wednesday, May 10, 2017. He was born in Snowflake, Arizona, on Jan. 30, 1927, to Lydia Jane Savage and Joseph Peterson.  He married Elizabeth (“Betty”) Colette Hayes of Wilmington, Delaware, on Aug. 17, 1953, in the Salt Lake LDS Temple.

Chas was an active member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and served a mission to Sweden 1947-49. He also served in World War II (Army) as part of the occupation troops in Tokyo, Japan, 1945-46.

Chas is survived by his six children; Colette (Leon Spackman), Joseph (Becky Heaton), John (Linda Israelsen), Matt (Pam Burgon), David (Melanie Crandall) and Samuel. He is also survived by 21 grandchildren, 16 great-grandchildren, and brothers Leon and Levi. He was preceded in death by his wife, Betty, and siblings — Arley, Leora, Andelin, Earland, Elwood, Lenora, Wanda, Mary, Alma and Roald­. He was also preceded in death by his second wife, May Kemp.

Chas was a professional historian and loved studying all aspects of western history. He earned BA and MA degrees from Brigham Young University (1953, 1958; respectively) and a Ph.D. from the University of Utah (1967). His areas of special emphasis included Mormon History and Resource Management Studies. He ranched, taught at four Utah universities and colleges, and was director of the Utah Historical Society and the Man and His Bread Museum, as well as editor of the Utah Historical Quarterly, the Western Historical Quarterly, and a University of Utah Press series on Utah history. He was the recipient of grants and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the American Association for State and Local History, and the Huntington Library. His publications include four books, several book chapters, over 20 articles on Mormon and natural resource topics, and numerous studies for various federal agencies. He was also the author of more than 55 invited book reviews published in historical journals. He delighted in teaching and mentoring students.

Funeral services

  • Funeral services will be held Saturday, May 13, at 12 p.m., with a viewing beginning at 11 a.m., at Metcalf Mortuary, 288 W. St. George Blvd., St. George.
  • Interment will be in the Pine Valley Cemetery.

Arrangements entrusted to the care of Metcalf Mortuary, 435-673-4221. For condolences, full obituary, and funeral listings please visit our website

In lieu of flowers, contributions can be made to the Peterson History Scholarship at USU Eastern,

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