Emeritus General Authority Remembered for His Devotion
By Marianne Holman, Church News staff writer
“Elder Peterson’s life was a model of diligence and hard work,” said Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve. “His devotion as a husband, father, grandfather, and great-grandfather and stalwart servant of the Lord influenced the lives of loved ones and all with whom he came in contact.”
Friends and family gathered in the Bountiful Hills Ward building in the Bountiful Utah Central Stake to remember their friend and Church leader, Elder Peterson, who served as a member of the First Quorum of the Seventy from 1985 to 1993 and as a counselor in the Presiding Bishopric from 1972 to 1985.
“We are confident your family members will take comfort in the quality of his life and the memories you share of his abiding love for his family and other people, and his lifelong efforts to accomplish his dreams and his testimony in God’s work,” said Elder Ballard while reading a letter from the First Presidency during the funeral. “We appreciate Elder Peterson’s dedicated service with the Church.”
Remembered by his family as a man who lived by a motto, “If our words are not consistent with our actions, they will never be heard above the thunder of our deeds,” Elder Peterson left a legacy for his family of dedicated service and of always putting the Lord first.
During the service his three living daughters shared memories of their father, focusing on the principles of the gospel his dedicated example taught them.
“We had a happy life, because happiness can reside in a family founded on the Lord Jesus Christ,” said a daughter, Jana P. Staples. “The Lord always came first, and because Dad loved the Lord, he loved his wife, he loved his daughters, and he loved the Church.”
Sister Staples said that one of the greatest lessons her father taught her was the power of prayer. She remembered watching her father walk down the hall to his study each night to pray. He would often stop along the way and ask her if she wanted him to pray for anything.
“Prayer was one of the key elements that made him the Christlike man that he became,” she said. “He taught us three important principles—to pray with consistency, to pray with purpose and precision, and to pray with faith.”
Another of Elder Peterson’s daughters, Keri P. Nielsen, shared how the priesthood played an important role in her father’s life. Sharing stories of how her father righteously used and relied on the priesthood power in their home growing up and all throughout his life, Sister Nielsen said her father believed the “priesthood is given to be used.”
Another daughter, Gayle P. Steele, shared a life sketch of her father, also emphasizing the importance her father placed on praying both morning and night—even and especially if one didn’t feel like praying.
She emphasized her father’s dedication to family relationships whether it was with her mother, his five daughters, or his childhood family growing up.
“Other than his wife, Brookie, Burke’s best friends in life were his brothers,” Sister Steele said. “Their mother called them ‘the boys,’ and it was rare if they ever missed a day talking to each other.”
Remembering when he was a little boy, his younger brother John R. Peterson said of his older brother, “Burke was always put in charge. Our mother would say, ‘Now Burke, you look out for the boys.’ And then she’d turn to us and say, ‘Now boys, you do what Burke says.’ ”
He was somebody a younger brother could always look up to, Brother Peterson said, adding that he learned from his brother how to work hard, love others, and serve.
“He loved God, the Savior, and his fellowmen,” said Brother Peterson. “He loved you all the same—it didn’t matter if you were in jail or in a mansion. … [He and Brookie] wore their lives out in the service of God.”
Elder Peterson was born on September 19, 1923, to Harold A. and Juna T. Peterson in Salt Lake City, Utah. He died on April 14, 2013, at his home in Bountiful, Utah. Preceding him in death were his wife and two daughters. He is survived by three children, 24 grandchildren, and 58 great-grandchildren.