Mahala Marlene (Mutchelknaus) Peterson was born March 4, 1934, in Freeman, S.D., to Helmuth and Elsie (Reimer) Mutchelknaus. She was taken home to heaven on Nov. 19, 2017.
She was baptized into the Christian faith on April 27, 1934 at the St. Paul Lutheran Church in Freeman. She was confirmed into the Lutheran faith on May 9, 1948. As a girl she attended St. Paul Lutheran school and she graduated from Freeman High School in 1952. Mahala worked at Kleinsasser Drug Store where she especially enjoyed serving people at the soda fountain.
On Nov. 20, 1953, she was united in marriage to Harris Ellsworth Peterson. She and Harris lived in Freeman the first few years of their marriage then moved to Magnet, Neb. After the addition of a son, Scott, and a daughter, Cindy, the family returned to Freeman. These were happy years and the family expanded with two additional daughters, Bonnie and Penny. While raising her children, Mahala worked many springs at Fensel’s Greenhouse and summers at the Dairy Queen. In 1970, the family relocated to Rapid City, S.D. During these years the family welcomed many Freeman area visitors into their home and escorted these visitors on tours of the Black Hills area. In 1974, the family returned to Freeman where Mahala and Harris remained. Mahala was employed at the Jack and Jill grocery store until it was destroyed by fire. She then worked in the kitchen at the Freeman Community Hospital and Nursing Home where she was known for her homemade pies. In 1998, Harris became a resident of the nursing home where, as a kitchen employee, Mahala continued to cook his meals. Harris passed away on Jan. 23, 2004. Mahala continued to work with the kitchen staff until her retirement after 25-plus years of service.
Mahala enjoyed many hobbies, cooking, gardening, and embroidery were some of her favorites. She spent endless hours in the garden, whistling and singing. Mahala had a strong faith throughout her life and served several years as Sunday school teacher sharing God’s word. She enjoyed keeping in contact with her relatives, neighbors and classmates over the years. She sent Christmas cards with letters as long as she was able.
In 2009 Mahala moved to the Salem Mennonite Home and in 2014 transferred to Oakview Terrace. Mahala was happy that she could spend her last years in Freeman where she knew so many of the employees and residents. Although the last few years have been difficult, she kept her faith and looked to the Lord daily.
Grateful for having shared her life are her son, Scott (Denise) Peterson of Freeman; her daughters: Cindy Peterson of Yankton, S.D., Bonnie (Mark) Heirigs of Yankton and Penny (Blaine) Saarie of Freeman. Also surviving her are eight grandchildren: Heather Altman, Warren (Kelly) Heirigs, Eric Heirigs, Tim DeBoer, Gayli (Aaron) Delzer, Matthew Peterson, Christa Peterson, Shay Saarie; one great-grandson, Russell Heirigs; her brother Charles and wife Audrey Mutchelknaus of Freeman; plus many nieces, nephews and friends.
Mahala was preceded in death by her husband, Harris and her parents, Helmuth and Elsie Mutchelknaus, and several brothers-and sisters-in-law.
A Time of Remembrance was held at St. Paul Lutheran Church Wednesday, Nov. 22, with Pastor Terry Makelin officiating. Pallbearers were Tim DeBoer, Warren Heirigs, Eric Heirigs, Matthew Peterson, Shay Saarie, Robbie Mutchelknaus and Kevin Mutchelknaus. Interment was at the Freeman City Cemetery.