Sky Scene 06

Clarence J. Peterson

August 23, 1928 ~ July 18, 2022 (age 93)


Dr. Clarence James (Pete) Peterson Jr. passed away on Monday, July 18, at the age of 93. 

Clarence was born August 23, 1928, in Park City, Utah, to Clarence and Jane Peterson.  He grew up on the family farm in Nampa, Idaho, and graduated from Nampa High School in 1947.  After a year of college at the University of Idaho, he joined the US Army in 1950 and was stationed in Germany.  Upon his return in 1952, Clarence enrolled back at the University and worked with the Idaho Crop Improvement Association.  He received his B.S. in Crop Science and an M.S. in Plant Pathology from the University of Idaho in 1956.  

Clarence began his career with the USDA-ARS in Pullman, Washington, in 1959 as technician for wheat breeder Dr. Orville Vogel.  With Dr. Vogel’s encouragement, he took a leave of absence and completed his PhD in 1970 at Oregon State University under the direction of Dr. Warren Kronstad.  He returned to Pullman and assumed Dr. Vogel’s breeding program upon his retirement.  Clarence’s breeding position and program transitioned to Washington State University in 1988 and he retired in 1994. 

Dr. Peterson had a major impact on the Pacific Northwest wheat industry through release and wide-scale adoption of his winter wheat varieties, including Daws, Dusty, Hiller, Kmor, Lewjain, Luke, and Rod. His variety Eltan was the #1 variety in Washington state from 2001 to 2010 and has been grown on over 8.5 million acres.  His legacy and impact on northwest agriculture continues as evidenced in the pedigrees of many modern wheat varieties. 

Clarence married Patricia Ann Cossairt on September 2, 1956, in Moscow, Idaho.  Together they raised three children in Pullman and enjoyed many weekends with the family boating on Lake Coeur d’Alene.  Upon retirement, they moved to a home on the lake and then, in 2002, to Meridian, ID, to be closer to his brothers and sisters.  They enjoyed travels, cruises and spent their winters in Yuma, AZ.  Along the way, he became a ‘fair’, although often frustrated, golfer and spent many days on golf courses with family and friends.  They returned to Pullman in 2021.

Clarence is survived by his wife of 65 years, Patricia; children Jim (Sue) of Thornton, CO, Steve (Leslie) of Dallas, TX, and Susie (Mike) of Bellingham, WA; grandchildren Curtis, Colin, and Asheton Peterson, Jenai Johns-Peterson, Samantha (Evan) and Lexie Cox, Drew (Danielle) Gale and great-grandson Bradley Gale; his siblings Edna Howell, Mary Hanby, Chuck (Julie) Peterson, Ellen (Ron) Mitchell, Judy (Jim) Fritz, and Sharon (Dennis) Kelley; and numerous nieces and nephews.  He was preceded in death by his parents, Clarence and Jane (Shelton) Peterson, and siblings Norma Jean, Gary and L. Ray Peterson. 

A graveside service will be held at 11:00 on Wednesday, July 27, at the Moscow Cemetery.  This will be followed by a celebration of life with a reception and lunch for family and friends at the Best Western University Inn - Moscow. The family has asked that, in lieu of flowers, please direct donations or memorials to the Clarence and Jane Peterson Scholarship Endowment, established at the University of Idaho Foundation, 875 Perimeter Drive MS 3143, Moscow, Idaho, 83844-3143.  Please indicate donations are in honor of Dr. Clarence Peterson.


Graveside Service
July 27, 2022

11:00 AM
Moscow Cemetery
1650 Troy Rd
Moscow, ID 83843

Celebration of Life
July 27, 2022

12:00 PM
Best Western University Inn (Moscow)

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