Our Dad, Pierre Earl Pettinger, Sr., passed away on September 16, 2017, two days after an electrical fire broke out in the dining room of the home he shared with our Mom, Michilina, and our brother, Alfred. His 93 years were full ones. He grew up in Syracuse, Nebraska, during the Great Depression, the youngest of six children. After serving in the 103rd Infantry during the Second World War, he returned to Nebraska and completed a law degree at Creighton University, in Omaha. Early in his 40-year career as an insurance claims manager, he met our Mom, who was working as a secretary in the law office of a friend. After their first date, he told her he was going to do her a favor and marry her.
“Don’t do me any favors,” she replied.
Apparently, she changed her mind.
Together they raised and educated the four of us. They also set us an example of loving duty to their family and hospitality to others. They cared for their parents and some of Dad’s siblings when they became too old or infirm to look after themselves. They “adopted” a crew of Pierre and Alfred’s college friends, cooking weekly dinners for them, and even housing a few of them, along with a stray cousin or two, for extended periods of time. When they ran out of college-aged friends, they took in a series of stray cats, who eventually had more clout in the household than any human. They doted on their grandchildren, going to our sister, Mary’s, house whenever they could. Ultimately, the thing that Pete and Mickey shared, and that made their marriage of 62 years work, was that they both had a hard time saying “no” to others.
Dad was a devout Catholic. He would get up in the middle of the night several times a week to go to church and pray before the altar. He also lived up to his prayers. After he retired, he did volunteer work for the Tabitha Home, a local retirement residence, helping others who were less vigorous. He would also drive inmates from the state penitentiary to church several times a week so they could attend mass. When I expressed concern that one of them might pull a shank on him, he had a simple answer.
“Mikey, they would never do that! They like me.”
He was always surprised that people liked him, and yet, without even trying, he charmed them. At the age of 83, having undergone quadruple-bypass surgery, he took his new-found energy and found himself a part-time job as a greeter at the local Hy-Vee Supermarket. He would press his clothes, dress up, and go to the store where could spend time chatting and helping others. By the time he left Hy-Vee at the age of 90, he had a wide circle of fans who looked forward to shopping just to spend a little time talking with him.
While it appears that insurance will cover the costs of repairing and restoring the home, the expenses for Dad’s funeral were significant and have put some strain on all the members of our family. Pierre will be administering the funds and will see to it that they go directly to the funeral home. The goal we have set represents the total cost, but any help you would care to offer would be received with gratitude.