Dorothy Christensen was away, serving in the Women’s Army Corps, with the Signal Corps in Missouri, when her family moved to Buffalo in the 1940’s, to a home that was in the area of the Discovery Center tennis courts.
Her brother, Art, and sister, Mary, attended school in what is now the Discovery building, and attended church at Zion, which at the time was just across the street in what is now the Assemblies of God church. Everything was within short walking distance. Dorothy joined the family in Buffalo after her discharge from the military in 1945.
On her first Sunday, she was invited to join the choir (her brother was already a member), so the following week she went to choir practice and was introduced to many who would become long time friends, including Ray Peterson, who had also recently been discharged from the military. After choir, it was the custom to go the Huber Hotel Cafe for treats. The Huber Hotel is now the Buffalo Hotel rooming house, near the library.
I waited on the front steps for my brother to take me but there were girls waiting for him. Ray happened to hear the conversation, and in ‘Navy man fashion’ said “I’ll take you for the malted milk!” So, on the steps of the old white church, I accepted and that’s the beginning of my story. By the way, Ray never bought the malted milk; a former choir member treated us both!
Dorothy quickly got involved with choir and the Sunday school program. She enjoyed Christmas caroling and working with the Junior and Cherub Choirs.
Music is a special part of worship with message in song; the words come back to you often in work or play. Church was a part of social life as it brought people together.
Young adults at the time were part of Luther League, and highlights of the year included New Year’s Eve and the ice cream social.
Ray and Dorothy Peterson were married in July of 1946.
The 80th anniversary picture of Zion that year is special to me, as it has many happy memories of family and special folks that made my part of Zion and its ministry so important.
We built our home and moved into it on February 14, 1950, we already had a busy life working together blessed with three children (Gregory, Randine, and Bradley), and making everything a joy of life even the difficult times. Nothing comes easy without putting work and effort into it. The Lord gives you strength for the day.
Dorothy’s first job in Buffalo was at Campbell Abstract Company. Ray took over Peterson Painters from his father and uncle and it became Do-Ray Decorators. When Ray passed away in 1962, Dorothy finished out the contracts and closed the business down after about a year. After the three children were all in school, she opened her own shop, Interiors by Dorothy. She enjoyed wonderful relationships in the business world and was part of the growing Buffalo community.
Family members were finding their individual identities and it was a three-ring circus for me, but God has given us everything we need for the journey of life. Have faith! There’s hope! God loves you!
Now retired from all the hustle and bustle, Dorothy has been given time to think about her life, and finds herself grateful for the support of community, church, and family, and for the opportunities she has been given.
After 66 years as members of Zion, Dorothy could write a history book on changes in the congregation and the many ministries she has been part of, including Luther League, Sunday School, Ladies Aid, Women’s Missionary Society, Miriams, and Lutheran Brotherhood, but she has a special place in her heart for music and choirs.
They just get bigger and better thanks to music leadership. Zion has many opportunities for a person to be a part and share with each other; to be greeted as you arrive on Sunday brings joy and makes you happy to be there. You are accepted as you are.
Thanks to Cindy Bonde, Len Bengtson, & Randi McColl for help with this story.