Marla Jean (Byers) Petersen was born on January 10, 1943, in Hartley, Iowa, to Elmer Leo Byers and Orpha Lerene (Leth) Byers. She was baptized the same year at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Hartley, and confirmed in 1957 at St. John’s Lutheran Church in May City, Iowa. Marla grew up on the Byers’ acreage near May City. Her Grandpa and Grandma Byers (Anna and Robert) lived in another house on the same acreage, and she especially loved to spend Sundays on the farm when friends and family would visit. She received her education at Harrison #4 in Osceola County, and also at Hartley, where she graduated in 1961. Marla then worked at the Melvin Savings Bank in Melvin, Iowa. She enjoyed spending time with her friends at the Roof Garden in Arnold’s Park, Iowa where she would eventually meet her future husband, Wally. Many fun date nights were spent dancing, especially to a polka.
On February 17, 1963, Marla married Walter Herman Petersen at May City. Wally and Marla farmed for nine years in the Hartley and Primghar, Iowa areas, then moved into the town of Hartley in 1970 when Wally purchased an oil truck business. A daughter, Lisa Jo Ann, was born in 1963, followed by a son, Wade Christian, in 1964.
Marla belonged to various clubs in Hartley and loved helping at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church whenever needed. She even volunteered to lead Wade’s Cub Scout troop. She belonged to a ladies’ bowling league and golf league. Together, Marla and Wally enjoyed card club and going to dance club. Marla also played hostess to many snowmobiling weekends with their friends, and at their Okoboji lake house in the 1990s.
In 1992, Marla began working at the Hartley Health Center. During the next 17 years, she worked in the kitchen, where she formed lasting friendships with co-workers, but it was the residents who she came to know as her “second family.” Family, friends, and neighbors also benefitted from Marla’s amazing cooking. She was an avid reader, a lover of plants and flowers, and a fan of anything purple. Marla also amassed quite a collection of decorative tins.
On June 24, 2018, Marla passed from this life at the age of 75. Preceding her in death were her parents, Elmer and Orpha; and her husband, Wally, in 2011.
Left to cherish her memory are her children: daughter, Lisa Petersen and husband Michael Heffernen of Spirit Lake, Iowa; son, Wade Petersen and husband Ken Hanson of Ankeny, Iowa; a brother, Steven (Kris) Byers; and a sister, Shelley (Rob) Meier; three step-grandchildren: Bethany (Khord) Campbell, Ryan Hanson, and Erin Hanson; and one step-great-granddaughter, Alaina Campbell. Also left to cherish her memory are beloved nephews and nieces, and many other family and friends.