Library celebrates namesake's 120th anniversary
ODESSA--The Dutton S. Peterson Memorial Library in Odessa commemorated the 120th anniversary of their namesake Saturday, Dec. 6 with a gathering of Peterson's family and community members. The event also served as a family reunion for the members of Dutton's family as they exchanged stories of Dutton's life throughout the event.
Executive Director of the Schuyler County Historical Society Andrew Tompkins gave a brief overview of Dutton's life and all he accomplished both in and outside of the community.
"After a little delving into our files at the historical society, I was able to see why Dutton S. Peterson is so worthy of commemoration," Tompkins said. "Throughout my research, the theme of selfless service to others kept appearing. His service to our country as a young marine in World War I, his service to Odessa as pastor of the Odessa Methodist Church, his service to our region as state assemblyman and state senator."
Peterson was born in Potter County, Pennsylvania in 1894. After serving in World War I, he and his wife, Martha settled in the hamlet of Cayutaville, in Schuyler County. He became a Methodist minister and pastored churches in Odessa and other surrounding hamlets. Peterson was elected member of the New York State Assembly from 1937 to 1942, and later served in the New York State Senate from 1953 until his passing in 1964.
Dutton's daughter Joyce Peterson Soule also spoke during the event, reading a speech that was given at the dedication of the library in 1986. She read about Dutton's high standards for himself, while he also "expected kids early on to do things the right way." Soule said he was a no-nonsense person, a great tennis player, and "drove a car so fast most kids vied for a chance to ride in his car to youth group meetings."
"How did he do it all?" Soule asked. "It just amazes me."
While Dutton's son, Richard Peterson was unable to attend the event, he sent along a letter to be read reflecting on his father's life. Chris Soule, Dutton's grandson, read the letter, in which Richard mentioned his father's love for the community.
"Dad always had a very special feeling for Odessa," Richard wrote. "He, of course, served other churches -- Catharine, Alpine and Cayuta -- but Odessa as a community, I always felt, was very close to his heart."