Hal V. ‘Vern’ Petersen
Sept. 28, 1954 - Aug. 15, 2021

Vern, a.k.a “Tiny,” left this world to join his Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, on August 15, 2021.

Vern fought valiantly against leukemia and so many other health challenges over the past six years. Some would say he was a determined soul – others, stubborn. What we know for sure is he overcame each of those challenges with a determination that was amazing.

Vern was born in Corvallis and was adopted by Dr. Hal and Norma Petersen. He spent his childhood in Chico. He loved living in Chico. The Butte Creek Canyon was a favorite place for bottle digging, gold mining/dredging, spelunking (the exploration of caves) and shooting. Most summers were spent with his beloved Aunt Marian, Uncle Daryl and cousin Steven in Southern California, learning so many cool things and riding horses. He attended Chico Senior High where he met his ‘Queen,’ Kimberly. They married in 1975 and have been together ever since. They moved to Humboldt County in 1979. He loved the beauty – hated the beach (just the sand part!)

Vern had many vocations in his life: backhoe operator and truck driver in SoCal, school bus driver for Scotia School, Chico City bus driver and owner of “Papa’s Chopper Shop” in Oroville. He restored and built houses in Humboldt and was the owner of California Training Center, a computer training school in Eureka.

But the things he loved the most were his family == his wife and three children. Each child had a special song composed by him. He would dance and/or rock them to sleep with his favorite music. He loved making special times come together — camping and boating at Ruth Lake for two weeks every summer, made extra special by building our ‘tent city,’ star gazing on the boat ramp and taking ‘monster walks” together.

His second love was his motorcycle. He had several variations over his lifetime, his favorite being his 1976 custom Shovelhead, his pride and joy. It was the main driving force motivating him to keep going through many of his physical challenges. He vowed to ride it again even after losing his leg. In the meantime, he rode his 2007 Softail trike. He told everyone that his Queen got it for him. They rode their motorcycles together as often as possible. They have been riding together since they were teenagers. These are some of the things that helped to combat his depression.

His most recent miracle was adding his boxer dog, Bridger, to the family. Getting him was an absolute God thing.

All the while, God was working in his life. He gave his life to Christ in the 90s. He knew he had been the recipient of many miracles. His Christian friend, Paul, said of him, “Tiny takes tiny steps.” Vern was an honest person and wanted to make sure his experiences with God were the real deal.

He became a member of The Journey Church in 2020 and joined a class on the Prophetic there this year. It intrigued him and he valued the knowledge and relationships he gained from that class.

In 2020, Vern’s brother-in-law, Russ Schmidt, organized “Tiny’s Lost Coast Run” to celebrate how much Vern had overcome. They decided to make it an annual event. Friends from all over California came to Humboldt County again this year to cruise the beautiful Lost Coast and the Giant Redwood Forest. He was honored to be the leader of the pack and pray over the riders. He was so looking forward to next year’s ride, but it was not meant to be. Next year will be a memorial run dedicated to him.

He is preceded in death by his parents, Dr. Hal and Norma Petersen, grandfather Verner Britton, grandmother Bessie Britton, father and mother-in-law Gerald and Beverly Schmidt, uncle and aunt Darryl and Marian Harris and brother-in-law Ed Hogg.

He is survived by his wife, Kimberly Petersen, their children, Ian Petersen, Drew Petersen (Jillian) and Rebekah Klinetobe (Greg). Grandchildren, Samson Petersen, Trynity Petersen and Emma Petersen. Brother-in-law, Russ Schmidt (Brenda), sister-in-law, Kristin Boddie (Lewis), sister-in-law, Andrea Davis, sister-in-law Hillarie Hunt (Daniel). Cousin Steven Harris (Kathey). Nieces, Sara Avakian (Eric), Gina Quinn, Kristine Alaways (Jeremy), Alyssa Davis, Jennifer Pierman (Kyle) and Melanie Nunes. Nephews, Grant Gillum (Terra), Michael Cantrall (Julie), Jeffrey Schmidt and James Davis. And many wonderful great-nieces and nephews.

Our family thanks you for all of your prayers and support at this time.

Celebration of life will be held at The Journey Church, 95 Belleview Avenue in Rio Dell on September 4 at 2 p.m. All are welcome.


The obituary above was submitted on behalf of Hal Petersen’s loved ones. The Lost Coast Outpost runs obituaries of Humboldt County residents at no charge. See guidelines here.