ST. CHARLES – With members of the St. Charles Heritage Center and his wife in the audience, 91-year-old Melvin Peterson on Monday night accepted a proclamation from Mayor Don DeWitte, who declared today Melvin Peterson Day.
“Thank you very much,” Peterson said after a standing ovation from the City Council, city staff and citizens.
Peterson was honored for his work as treasurer for the St. Charles Heritage Center and for being the “go-to guy” for information dating back 25 years or more.
“Melvin has earned himself the unofficial title as a walking, talking history book of St. Charles,” DeWitte said, reading from the proclamation. “No one still alive today can give you chapter and verse about the agricultural history of the area.”
“It’s fun to answer questions for people about things years and years ago,” Peterson said.
According to the proclamation, Peterson and his wife, Ruth, married in the 1940s. He worked in the shipping department of St. Charles Kitchen and later took over the Wasco Blacksmith Shop.
His civic and volunteer service includes ushering at the Bethlehem Lutheran Church for 50 years, serving as church historian and participating on the Baker Community Center and St. Charles Heritage Center boards.
The St. Charles Heritage Center, 215 E. Main St., will host an open house today for Peterson from 5 to 7 p.m.
Assistant Fire Chief Joe Schelstreet said Peterson has done projects such as creating living history sculptures for the fire department, police department and park district and saving the bronze bell in front of the heritage center.
According to the proclamation, Peterson spent months in the blacksmith shop fixing and cleaning the historic 2,500-pound bell. Peterson said it was mounted in 2009.
“I hope to live many more years,” Peterson said.