The Mary and Axel Peterson Endowment

The Mary and Axel Peterson Fund


Axel The Inventor

Mr. Axel Peterson was born in Kewanee, IL, to Lawrence and Emma (Matson) Peterson on April 29, 1908. After high school Mr. Peterson started a pattern shop in his home; a trade he learned from his father. His business grew to become Interstate Pattern and Machine Co., where he employed up to 20 employees.

Mr. Peterson belonged to the Zion Lutheran Church in Kewanee and was a member of the American Foundrymen Society - QC Chapter. He was an avid boater and was a member, director and commodore of the Lindsay Park Boat Club for many years. He was instrumental in the establishment of a harbor at Lindsay Park. He was also interested in the stock market, flying and in later years he was a computer addict. Among his many hobbies, Axel’s greatest passion came from working on projects in his workshop. Friends and neighbors said he could fix anything and called on him often to prove it.

Axel was an inventor and had 17 patents on various items. Among his creations were a pitcher lid for pouring syrup, a honey section folder, a foundation fastener, a core plowing machine, and a side clamp for core boxes and core molding machines. He also invented the Vibrator Hammer which hangs on a train box car and shakes the box so that all of the cargo, such as grain, is removed from the car.

Voyage to America

Mary was born in Ardoye, Belgium. Her father was Louis Goderis and her mother was Celina Uyttenhove. In 1912, her parents migrated to America while she and her siblings stayed with relatives. Mary was only two years old. In 1920, Mary and her siblings were given passage on a ship bound for America. It was a difficult voyage and her sister did not make it. Upon arrival, Mary and her brothers, with instructions pinned on them, were put on a train to Rock Island, IL. They were met at the Rock Island Depot by their parents and a sister they had never met.

The children did not know any English so they had tutors to prepare them for their classes. Mary studied hard and passed the test for school placement in the 4th grade, which was appropriate for her age. She went to Rock Island Grade School and graduated from Rock Island High School. She had a desire to become a nurse. With the help of a John Deere Scholarship, she attended St. Francis School of Nursing in Kewanee and earned her registered nurse’s diploma and her nursing license. After initial training, she spent two years working on private duty cases at the Kewanee Hospital. She then returned to the Quad City area where she continued her nursing career.

Mary was a wonderful nurse. She had a heart of gold and treated each patient with the same kindness and respect. Mary felt nursing enabled her to influence the lives of others. She felt like she made a difference.

How Mary and Axel Met

In 1934 Mary met George Herman and married him on October 25, 1935. They lived happily for 50 years until his unexpected passing. George was employed by Axel and worked at Interstate Pattern and Machine Co. for much of his life. After George’s passing she married Axel, a bachelor until he met Mary. They were together for 10 years. Axel passed away in 1997 due to heart disease.

The Mary and Axel Peterson Fund was established to make a difference in the lives of people form the Quad Cities long after the Peterson’s lifetime. Mary’s compassionate heart combined with Axel’s love for the community motivated Mary to establish this fund in 1998.

"Jayne's life was taken much too soon, but her spirit continues to live on through her scholarship fund."

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Did You Know?

The Rotary Club of Davenport has utilized the Community Foundation to administer their annual scholarship since 2001.
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