Bob and Teresa Peterson, of Pequot Lakes, were chosen as the Pequot Lakes Stars & Stripes Parade grand marshals, and they are both quite humble about the recognition.
If you ask Bob, he'll tell you they got the honor because of Teresa, and vice versa.
"I know why they chose Bob," Teresa said. "He's almost Mr. Pequot. He's wonderful. He's totally involved. He's very well-known and such a kind person. I think I'm well-known through the school world. I do know a lot of parents because I've been there so long."
Both are well-known locally. Bob is manager at Thurlow Hardware, secretary of treasury with the Pequot Lakes Fire Department and a member of the local housing board. Teresa just retired as a building secretary at Eagle View Elementary School. Both have held those positions long enough to become familiar to the people of Pequot Lakes.
Bob is a hometown original, born and raised locally, though he once planned to spend his working years elsewhere. Bob didn't plan to make it a lifelong career when he first started working at Thurlow Hardware as a junior in high school. That opened the door to what would become a 45-year career.
Fresh out of high school he went to college in Brainerd for several years and then earned a business accounting degree from Bemidji State University.
"When I graduated from college my intent was to move," Bob said. "At the same time the manager working here at Thurlow had health problems. That kind of opened the door for me."
Bob has been with the fire department for 44 years and secretary of treasury for 43 years.
Though he may have planned to move along some day, Bob made connections that he has maintained for a lifetime.
One of those most important connections was made while attending college. There, Bob went on a blind date with an Iowa girl living in Brainerd, and that girl turned out to be his future wife.
Together, Bob and Teresa decided to stick around. They both had stable jobs right out of college. After graduating from what was then known as Brainerd State Junior College, Teresa started working as a secretary with the Brainerd School District and Bob had kept his job at the hardware store by working weekends through the summer.
Early on they considered moving, but Bob said his mother was fighting cancer and he wanted to spend her last two years together. Eventually their plans changed and they didn't want to leave.
"I love this area and like the people," Bob said. "I just didn't want to leave it. My wife and I vacationed a lot trying to find a better place. Pequot Lakes was it."
Teresa worked for the Brainerd School District for 11 years, but once she became busy raising children she started working as a real estate appraiser from home. That lasted until her children started school.
She's worked at Eagle View ever since, for a total of 18 years. Like Bob, Teresa was steadfast in her career choices.
"I'm a very steady person," Teresa said. "I don't change very often with jobs, homes or anything like that. Consistency really worked for me, but I also enjoyed the variety of the job I did in both Brainerd and even more at Eagle View. It's something new all the time. You never know what each day is going to bring. I like the staff, I like the kids, I like the parents. I just really enjoyed my job there."
A change is coming. Teresa's last day at Eagle View is Thursday, June 27, and Bob is contemplating his own retirement (though no decision has been made).
"I have no set date at this time but my wife is retiring," Bob said. "That may have some play in that decision. Right now I'm still working and still on the fire department. Your stamina isn't the same as you age. I still enjoy it and I'm still very active."
Though Bob is not ready to set a retirement date, he and Teresa are already making plans for their free time.
"We're very busy," Bob said. "We have lots of projects around our house and yard. My wife likes going to national parks and state parks. That's a thing that might be on our agenda. We have two children and a grandson, so we'll be seeing them more often."
"We want to enjoy the time to do what we want to do when we want to do it while we have the energy to do it," Teresa said. "We don't have plans for major traveling or anything like that. I have a goal to hit as many major state parks as we can, because we hit the highlights like Itasca and the North Shore parks, but there's so many Minnesota state parks I'd like to get to. That's been on my mind as long as I can remember, to just get to as many as I can. I do have a grandson and kids who live in the Cities. I want to be there for as much as I can for my kids for as much as I can. We have a daughter in Nisswa. I just want to be available for things."
Both were simply humbled by their selection as grand marshals for this year's Stars & Stripes Parade, which will be at noon Thursday, July 4.
"I'm astonished," Bob said. "I just do what I do and go to work and I guess I'm very honored."
"I was really surprised because quite honestly neither one of us does things to get attention," Teresa said. "It's for the community and we'll ride on the truck with our lawn chairs and wave to people we know. I'm OK with it. I was a bit surprised though."