Doris Mae (Breyfogle) Petersen

Doris Mae (Breyfogle) Petersen

1933 – 2024


HOLSTEIN - Doris M. Petersen, 90, passed away peacefully on June 3, 2024, surrounded by family, at The Good Samaritan Society in Holstein. She had previously resided at The Ridge and Holstein Senior Living. A funeral service will be held on Saturday, July 6, 2024 at 10 a.m. at the St. Paul Evangelical Lutheran Church of Holstein. Burial will be at the Holstein Cemetery of Holstein with lunch following at the church. The Nicklas D. Jensen Funeral Home in Holstein is handling the arrangements.

Doris passed away peacefully on June 3, 2024, surrounded by family, at The Good Samaritan Society in Holstein. She had previously resided at The Ridge and Holstein Senior Living.

Doris was born Oct. 18, 1933, the fourth of thirteen children, to Harold and Ethel (Tolzin) Breyfogle. The oldest children were in charge of getting the youngest off to school and assuring laundry, house cleaning and chores were done. Doris gleaned from her youth that a little could be enough, and the importance of taking pride in what you have and working hard to accomplish what you want in life. But especially, she knew the value of family love and support. Memorial, Thanksgiving and Christmas Days were always spent with family at Grandma B’s house.

Doris graduated from Holstein High School in 1951 as valedictorian of her class. She was editor of the 1951 Moo, sang in the school chorus and small groups, acted in the Senior Play, was voted Relays Queen, and was the leading scorer on Coach Russ Kraai’s 1951 State Girls’ Basketball team.

Doris was a brilliant student and loved learning above all else. She earned her way through a B.A. in Education from Wartburg College by working as a caretaker for the home and children of the local pharmacist. After graduating, her first elementary teaching assignment was in Cherokee. She then moved to California and taught in Torrence for two years.

Doris said often that she would have stayed in sunny California, had it not been for one thing—a tall, handsome farmer who didn’t want to leave Iowa. She and Tom Petersen were married at St. Paul Lutheran Church in Holstein on Aug. 16, 1959, and spent the next 61 years together. They were an example of love and devotion to their children, and especially to each other.

Tom and Doris bought the Petersen family farm in 1960 and raised three children there: Tracey Linn, Keith Joe, and Susan Joanne. They instilled in their children a strong work ethic, a love of learning, and the importance of family love and loyalty. Doris’ pride and joy was her enormous garden and rhubarb bed, and Tracey, Keith and Susan all spent innumerable hours helping with planting, growing, harvesting and preserving the fruits of that labor.  

Doris tended lovingly to Tom’s mother, Augusta, for many years, buying her groceries each Saturday alongside Aunt Anna Petersen, and taking her to church each Sunday.  She set an example by her actions of the importance of caring for those we love until the end.

Doris felt it was important to be a mother first and foremost, so she stayed home with her family during the years that the children were in school. During that time, she attended Morningside College to obtain her B.S. in Elementary Education. When youngest daughter, Susan, graduated from High School, Doris returned to her passion and taught for many years in Battle Creek. She substitute taught until she was 80, and after that, would comment often how much she missed teaching and the children.

Doris’ favorite activity was golfing. She played in a senior ladies’ golf league called the Keen-Agers. She also walked miles each day, outside when she could, or at the Rec Center. Most importantly, over the years, Doris made sure to make the long trips as often as she and Tom could to Kansas and Montana to see their grandchildren’s special activities and events. They all meant the world to her. 

Doris was a lifelong member of St. Paul Lutheran Church, where she taught Confirmation classes for many years. She instilled a strong faith and love of the Lord in her children. Though dementia won out in the last 15 years of her life, she never lost her ability to laugh and love. She will be remembered by all who knew her as a strong, intelligent woman who never sat still, and who put her husband’s and family’s needs and desires before her own in every instance.

Doris is survived by her children Tracey Petersen Atzeni (husband Steve), Keith Petersen, and Dr. Susan Petersen (husband Dr. Jon Bullman), grandchildren Zachary Atzeni (wife Danielle), Caitlin Atzeni, and Mikayla, Allie and Derick Bullman. She is also survived by sister Carol Kolberg, brothers Jim (wife Karen) Breyfogle, Dean (wife Cleo) Breyfogle, Don (wife Jane) Breyfogle, Dennis (wife Kathy) Breyfogle, and sister-in-law JoAnn Breyfogle.  Doris was preceded in death by her husband, Thomas Petersen, her parents, Harold and Ethel Breyfogle, and sister Verla Thompson, brother-in-law George Thompson, sister Audrey Schubert, brother-in-law Harold Schubert, brother Jack Breyfogle, sister-in-law Kathleen Breyfogle, sister Bonnie Wirkus, brother-in-law Denton Wirkus, brother Jerry Breyfogle, brother Dale Breyfogle, sister-in-law Ellen Madsen, sister Margaret Freed, and brother-in-law Harold Petersen.

The family wishes to thank the staff members of Holstein Senior Living, The Good Samaritan Society, and Care Initiatives Hospice for the loving care given to our mom. We also are very grateful to our extended family members for their strong love and support during these last difficult years. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to St. Paul Lutheran Church. Thank you to Pastor Bob Lewis for his years of service to St. Paul and to our family, and to all the members of St. Paul who have been a constant for our parents’ entire lives.


Services: July 6, St. Paul Evangelical Lutheran Church, Holstein

Burial: Holstein Cemetery, Holstein

Nicklas D. Jensen Funeral Home • Holstein • 712-368-4332



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