After graduating from Canton High School, where he played baseball and basketball, during the height of the Vietnam War, Larry Peterson put his college career on hold to enlist in the United States Army. Upon completing his training requirements, he was deployed to Vietnam.
While there, Peterson’s infantry was attacked, and he was hit in the arm and the leg by gunfire. With broken bones, he attempted to help others before evacuating on foot. He was airlifted to a hospital in Japan for medical care and remained there for two months before returning back to the U.S. for further care. For the final eight months of his service, he was assigned as a mail clerk at Ft. Leonard Wood.
While working at Caterpillar and on a two-month early-out, Peterson chose to attend night classes at SRC beginning in 1968. He received 120 hours of credit — enough, he jokes, to probably receive two degrees — and earned his degree 10 years later, in 1978.
After being laid off from the strip mine, Peterson began working as a mail clerk at the Canton post office in 1980. He worked in this role until 2007, which gave him the opportunity to play both basketball and softball, and to volunteer for the Little Giants Booster Club and coach youth/school sports.
Along with his close friends Bob Barnes (basketball) and Mike Walters (baseball), Coach Pete became a mainstay in Canton sports and a positive role model in the lives of many young people. Together, they helped to bring some success to both programs, with both teams having 20+ win seasons during their tenures, with the basketball team winning the Macomb-Western Holiday Tournament twice.
Peterson made the Dean’s List while at SRC, but he’s also been honored with recognitions that include a Purple Heart, the Combat Infantry Badge, Vietnam Service Medal, two Gold Stars, the Vietnam Campaign Medal, and the Little Giant Booster of the Year. He’s a member of the American Legion, Disabled American Veterans, the Purple Heart Association, the Combat Infantry Association, the VFW, AmVets, and the National Purple Heart Hall of Fame.
The proud father of Clint Peterson and Shana Rudd; the proud stepfather of Taylor Steck; and the proud grandfather of Charlie and Izabelle Peterson and Parker and Beau Rudd, Peterson lives in Canton, Ill., with his wife, Krista. The two have been together for 23 years.