Pete Petersen started career at 17
WHEN RICHARD “PETE” Petersen, a 50-year member of the National Cement Lodge (DNCL), started working in 1967 at Linwood Mining & Minerals Corp. near Davenport, Iowa, he was a 17-year-old high school student. He worked 40 hours a week on Linwood’s second shift while finishing his senior year of high school during the day. When he wasn’t working, studying or sleeping, he also found time to work on area farms, cleaning barns and planting crops.
Petersen retired in August and took two months to visit several national parks with his wife, Lynn. And while Petersen is officially retired, his employer wasn’t keen on letting him go.
“I’m going to come back and work part time for a little while,” says Petersen. “They want help on some projects.” He also acknowledges his wife, Lynn, “doesn’t know if she can put up with me yet.”
Part-time is a relative term in Petersen’s world, as he often worked 12-hour shifts, six days a week installing and maintaining complex electrical systems. He worked both at the plant and in the mine installing and maintaining lighting, pumping and ventilation a mile and a half underground. He’s also assembled and maintained the most current electrical system at Linwood that includes 10 motor control centers with programmable logic controllers.
“The good part was putting in new equipment. It’s fun, putting it together and making it run when it’s done.”
When he first started at Linwood, a large limestone mining operation, he earned $2.50 an hour. He began in clean-up, as he said most new employees did. He moved to bagging, maintenance and then to electrical work, what he’s been doing since 1979.
His only break in employment occurred during the Vietnam War, when he served two years with the Marines, first in San Diego then in Puerto Rico, resurfacing the air strip and installing a new sewer on the Vieques Island.
Petersen isn’t sure what’s next after his part-time work at Linwood is over, but knows he’ll figure something out. He loves to work and enjoyed his 50-years at Linwood, which he said was a “good employer.”
“We will definitely miss his intuitional knowledge,” said Jonathon Wilmshurst, president at Linwood. “But we wish him well.”