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Irv Peterson

age 91 of Marshall

September 4, 2012
Marshall Independent

Dec. 23, 1920-Aug. 29, 2012

MARSHALL - Services for Marcelle Irving "Irv" Peterson, 91, of Marshall are at 2 p.m. Thursday at First Lutheran Church in Marshall. The family will be available one hour prior to the service at the church. Visitation will be from 5-9 p.m. Wednesday at RehkampHorvath Funeral Home in Marshall ( A photo and musical memorial video presentation will begin at approximately 6 p.m. on Wednesday evening at the funeral home.

He died Wednesday, Aug. 29, 2012, at his residence in Marshall.

Article Photos

Irv was born Dec. 23, 1920, in Garvin, to Marvin and Ida (Stageberg) Peterson. He attended Garvin Public School and graduated from Tracy High School and St. Olaf College. While at St. Olaf, he played 1st chair solo cornet in the concert band. Irv also formed the first ever dance band at the college.

Irv enlisted in the U.S. Navy in1942 and served two years as a Communications Officer at Guadalcanal. Back in the States while assigned as the Ships' Service Officer at the Naval Armory Base in Chicago, he was acknowledged for the many significant improvements he made to the Ships' Service Stores. Many of the merchandising methods he developed are still in use today.

In 1947, Irv purchased a small local music store in Marshall and named it Peterson Music & Radio Company. Over the years, his business expanded into a six-story retail and service establishment serving southwestern Minnesota and the tri-state area. Many households purchased their very first television set at his store. Irv was also very dedicated to music in the schools and would travel throughout the area to sell and service musical instruments. After 27 years, Irv decided to sell the business and pursue his other business interests including vending and property management. Irv was also a partner in the building of the first Mall in Marshall, called The Marshall Square Mall.

What Irv Peterson will most likely be remembered for are his musical contributions to the community as a band leader, trumpet player, and arranger. In 1946, Irv began playing professionally with the Wally Warren and Sammy Jensen Orchestras. Two years later, WCCO's Cedric Adams invited Irv and his trumpet trio to play on his "Stairway to Stardom" program. He eventually organized his own dance band called The Ambassadors, which became one of the more popular groups in the area. In the early '70s, Irv was enticed by his old friend, Sammy Jensen, to join his band once again on a regular basis. In 1981, as Sammy's health was failing, he sold the band to Peterson. Under Irv's leadership and his added musical arrangements, the orchestra became quite popular with dancers. In 1985, the band began touring nationally. They booked annual trips to the southwestern states and cruises to other parts of the world. Under Irv's leadership, the Sammy Jensen Orchestra attracted some of the area's most talented musicians (including former leaders of other dance bands). The group received numerous awards including "Best Minnesota Ballroom Dance Band" presented by the Minnesota Ballroom Association. In 1998, The Sammy Jensen Orchestra was inducted into the Minnesota Music Hall of Fame. In 1999, Irv was named "Band Leader of the Year" by the National Ballroom and Entertainment Association.

For 67 years, Irv was also a regular in the Marshall Municipal Band. It was with the Municipal Band where he sat next to a cornet player by the name of Mary Lou Ehrreich. Mary Lou became his wife and the couple had been united in marriage since June 12, 1949.

He is survived by his wife, Mary Lou, of Marshall; children, Gary (and Elbe) of Van Nuys, Calif., Randy of Marshall, Kevin (and Cindy) of Marshall, Scott (and Ying) of North Hollywood, Calif., Kelly (and Lisa) of Castaic, Calif.; six grandchildren, (Teri, Haley, Xena, Maya, Cameron and Sonny), and brother, Duane (and Marge) Peterson of Tracy.

He was preceded in death by his baby son Ricky.

In his final days, Irv turned to his wife and said, "We had a great life."

The family is grateful to have any memorial donations in honor of M. Irving Peterson directed to either Marshall Community Services (Marshall Municipal Band), or to St. Olaf College. Donations can be mailed c/o M. Irving Peterson, PO Box 516, Marshall, MN 56258.

Rehkamp & Horvath

Funeral Directors



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