By Carol Peterson, David Battey, and Jodi Warren
Please join us Sunday, Oct. 1, at 2 p.m. to dedicate several memorials to the late Charles S. Peterson, who passed away in April 2017.
Charles was a sitting City Councilmember in Snoqualmie at the time of his unexpected death. Several memorials throughout Historic Downtown Snoqualmie have been designated in his name at four locations where he spent much of his time in the past four decades. In addition to nearly 40 years in service to his beloved Snoqualmie, he simultaneously spent those years and more in the labor union that represented hundreds of workers when the Weyerhaeuser Company was in operation as the major employer in the Snoqualmie Valley.
The three block walking (or driving) tour starts at the Snoqualmie United Methodist Church, 38701 SE River Street, then moves to the old Union Hall building, now Sigillo Cellars. The third stop is at the Peterson home, and the final at Snoqualmie City Hall at approximately 4 p.m. for the dedication of Charles’ name on the City Council chambers, followed by a reception at City Hall.
Speakers will be at each location to describe the memorials, their history and Charles’ involvement in each one. Everyone is invited; the event will occur rain or shine.
Charles began his union service in 1956 when he joined the union as an employee at Weyerhaeuser, after graduating from Mount Si High School. He was a member of the Local 1845 of the Lumber and Sawmill Workers and the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners International for more than 50 years until retiring in 2001.
Charles’ first job was pulling lumber on the green chain, one of the most difficult jobs in the mill. He advanced to maintenance electrician before being elected business agent, financial secretary and treasurer of the union, where he served locally for 10 years.
His expertise in arbitrating dismissals and negotiating skills were noted as he continued to rise in the union as head of the Puget Sound District Council with offices in Seattle with 13 local unions under him, and then to President of the Western Council of the United Brotherhood with headquarters in Portland, Ore. This included overseeing and negotiating contracts in the 11 western states.
He was called back twice after retirement to negotiate major national lumber contracts.
All of these positions were elected and he never lost an election.
Charles’ service to the city was extensive; he served as Mayor from 1974-1981 and was appointed and elected to the city council seven times from 1967 to 2015, with minimal breaks for union business and five years service on the Planning Commission.
Charles would have served the city for 40 years if he had been able to fulfill his last term until 2019.
During his tenure with the City Council, Charles was involved in the construction of new city buildings, upgrading infrastructure, and setting policies for the long-term benefit of residents. He was a trusted steward of city finances and supported sound spending decisions.
He was a man of integrity and an extremely valuable resource to the city and to the region, where he was one of the first representatives to the suburban Mayor’s Association representing all city governments outside of Seattle.
He was always an exemplary public official whose intelligence, honesty, and devotion were unsurpassed.
When he came back on board in 2004 as an appointment to the expanded city council, the city was experiencing a transition from small, rural town to a growing suburban city with many new residents on the Ridge.
Charles’ diplomacy as a trusted leader helped to bridge some of the divisions in our city and to maintain the bonds of one united city. He brought all of his knowledge and his research skills to bear on his decisions. He encouraged deep and thoughtful discussions that made full council decisions better.
Life in Snoqualmie
Charles was a Snoqualmie resident all of his life with the exception of years spent in the U.S. Army including living for six months in the ice tunnels of Greenland.
He was sent to Greenland just two weeks after he and Carol were married in Washington, D.C., in 1962 on a Friday the 13th.
Charles and Carol raised their two children in Snoqualmie, Julie, of Seattle, an executive producer at Microsoft) and Ryan, an engineer at RH2 Engineering in Wenatchee.
Charles and Carol were married just short of five days for 55 years when he died in April.
Carol continues to live in their historic home on Maple Avenue with the children visiting regularly.