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Francis C. Peterson

Feb 28, 1932 - Oct 26, 2023


Francis C. Peterson, age 91, of Sheboygan, died on Thursday, October 26, 2023, at his home, surrounded by his family. He was born in Blooming Prairie, Minnesota on February 28, 1932, the son of the late Ormanzo and Mabel Thompson Peterson.

Growing up on a farm he was always inquisitive, and the inventor’s mind started early. At a young age, he once tried to put lefse, a favorite traditional Norwegian flatbread, through the rollers of his mother’s washing machine to speed production.

After graduating from Blooming Prairie High School in 1950, he joined the Air Force. He was preparing to head overseas to Korea, but instead was sent to a mountain top in Alaska serving as a radar operator, mastering the unique talent of writing and reading backwards.

He married his true love, Marjorie Langer in 1954 and together they raised 5 strong college-educated and fiercely independent children. Their union lasted nearly 69 years.

He attended the University of Minnesota on the GI Bill graduating with an associates degree in engineering while also working full-time as a carpenter. After graduating he continued working in construction as a superintendent for Joe Peterson Construction (no relation) building schools, houses, and a pavilion at the Minnesota Arboretum. He was the construction superintendent on a million-dollar mansion that landed on the cover of House and Garden Magazine in 1968. During construction, the owner didn’t want hinges to show on a wall of doors and so Francis developed an “invisible” hinge. He sent the idea to the Hager Hinge Company, and it became his first patent. He became Hager’s Director of Research and Development in St. Louis, MO.

His life-long passion for creating and inventing resulted in over 125 patents across multiple manufacturing industries for Hager Hinge Company, Illinois Tool Works (Chicago, IL), Anchor Fastener (Waterbury, CT), and Phillips Plastic Corporation (Prescott, WI). After retiring from Phillips Plastic Corporation in 2001, he continued as an independent consultant working extensively in the medical industry creating unique surgical devices. One invention, the OptiMesh Expandable Fusion System used to stabilize vertebrae in back surgery received FDA approval after 20 years of testing and persistence. And in 2002 his Pig-Tail Fastener invention was awarded Hammacher Schlemmer’s Invention of the Year.

He loved his retirement years at Big McKenzie Lake in Spooner, WI. In 2017, he moved with his wife to Sheboygan, WI to be closer to his family and lived there for the remaining 6 years of his long life. He was an interesting man who loved to talk about science, politics, and his inventions. An avid reader, he loved Mark Twain, books about the Civil War, biographies, and any kind of history book. He also loved to read his Scientific American magazines cover to cover. He was a friend, mentor, and confidant to so many over the course of his life as a brother, father, uncle, cousin, grandparent, great-grandfather, church member, and co-worker. Much of his help and support was done behind the scenes without others knowing. Francis was a one-of-a-kind Renaissance man, who doesn’t come along often, and for that he will be deeply missed. If you had a chance to have known him, you were a lucky person.

Survivors include his wife, Marjorie Peterson, of Sheboygan; children, Alan (Mary Jo) Peterson, of Henderson, TN, Barbara (Donald) Martens, Brenda (Brian) Richterkessing, both of Sheboygan, Sandra Peterson, of Lake Los Angeles, CA, and Mary Peterson (Steve Schubert), of Vero Beach, FL; grandchildren, Amy Wood, Christie Henderson, Carl Martens, Katie Brooks, Jacob Martens, Eilish Nobes; great-grandchildren, Amelia Wood, Harper Henderson, Mack and Remy Martens, Tristan and Raylan Brooks, Nathen and Eva Vaughn, Malachi, Esther, and Jael Martens; two sisters-in-law, Louise Peterson, of Blooming Prairie, MN, and Kathy Wobschall, of Owatonna, MN; and a brother-in-law, David (Marguerite) Langer, of Sheboygan. Francis is further survived by many other relatives and friends. He was preceded in death by his parents, brothers, Marion, Hiram, and Richard Peterson, sisters, Mildred Christianson, Berniece Hines, Rayma Christianson, Joyce Trom, and Darlene Jones.

A funeral service for Francis will be held on Friday, November 3, 2023, at 11:00 a.m. at the Reinbold-Novak Funeral Home, 1535 S. 12th Street, Sheboygan. Family and friends may gather at the funeral home on Thursday evening November 2nd, from 4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m., and on Friday morning from 10:00 a.m. until the time of service at 11:00 a.m.

In lieu of flowers, to honor the family’s request, please make a donation in his memory to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

Funeral Service

Date: Friday Nov 3, 2023
Time: 11:00 a.m.
Location: Reinbold-Novak Funeral Home [map]


Date: Friday Nov 3, 2023
Time: 10:00 a.m. to11:00 a.m.
Location: Reinbold-Novak Funeral Home [map]


Date: Thursday Nov 2, 2023
Time: 4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.
Location: Reinbold-Novak Funeral Home [map]



Guestbook Entries SIGN GUESTBOOK

Steven Wolfe

I worked with Francis for a few years at Phillips Plastics during the development of Optimesh. Francis was a brilliant inventor, I owe some of my current methods as an engineer/ inventor to him. If it's a mechanical problem, there is a mechanical solution. I value my time I had with him.

Dave walsh

I sometimes still answer my phone: “Peterson” I sure enjoyed working with him at Phillips…. Condolences to the family.

Carol Binney

A well lived life. Rest in peace. Condolences to family and friends.

Allen Wayne Vandal

I am sorry for your loss! Prayers

Mark and Jodi Cook

Our condolences to Marge, Brenda and Brian, and the entire Peterson Family.