Memorial service for Hall of Fame Big Sky Conference Official and Spokane native will take place Friday at 1:30 p.m. in Spokane
Dennis (Denny) Peterson, the driver of the widely-popular “IncREDible” semi-truck to Eastern Washington University road football games, unexpectedly passed away at his home in Spokane, Wash., on Thanksgiving afternoon. He was 77.
Peterson, whose son Mike Peterson played one season of football for the Eagles in 1980, spent 33 years officiating basketball and football in the Big Sky Conference, and another 13 as an officiating observer at EWU football games. The North Central High School (Spokane) graduate was inducted into the Big Sky Conference Officials Hall of Fame.
A Celebration of Life Service will be held at 1:30 p.m. this Friday (Dec 4) at Berean Bible Church (10910 E Boone Ave, Spokane Valley WA 99206). A complete family obituary is below.
Peterson became the driver of the EWU equipment truck in 2014, when his employer, Systems Transport, provided a painted trailer to EWU Athletics to utilize for road games. The trailer features the photo from the inaugural 2010 game on Eastern’s now famous red turf football field, plus the slogan “IncREDible.”
“Denny was such an important part of our equipment team these past two years,” said Eastern assistant athletic director Augie Hernandez. “I'll forever be grateful for the time we worked together and all the time he took to drive that beautiful trailer throughout the Western half of the country.”
One of the longest drives Peterson had was in September when he drove the truck to Waterloo, Iowa, for EWU’s game at Northern Iowa. Mike, a former collegiate basketball official, served as color commentator for EWU’s radio broadcast of that game.
“Denny and Mike have been around our athletics programs on a variety of levels for all of my 25-plus years here,” said EWU sports information director Dave Cook. “As much as the Big Sky appreciated having Denny as an official, his presence in the pressbox for many years helped us clarify rulings and understand the game better. Having him on the road with us was even better – we loved seeing that truck when we arrived at games, but we loved the driver even more. We will miss him a great deal and send our deepest condolences to the Peterson family.”
Family Obituary . . .
Dennis Lee Peterson (77) August 11, 1938 – November 26, 2015
Our beloved father Dennis (Denny) Peterson passed away unexpectedly at home on Thanksgiving Day afternoon. Denny was loved by all who met him. He was a kind, wise, hard-working and loving man. His passion for life centered on God, his family and his love of sports. He genuinely loved life and people.
He was born in Wallace Idaho to Jim and Olive Peterson. He attended high school at North Central where he excelled as a multi-sport athlete in football, basketball and baseball. After graduating, he entered the Navy, serving our country and travelling the globe on a Naval Destroyer ship. It was during this time he met the love of his life, Eunice – his wife of 56 wonderful years. They had a family of 3 boys: Mike, Tim and Dan. They all settled in Spokane. Denny poured his heart and soul into his family.
Denny’s career was transportation. His roles included driving semi-trucks - short and long haul, management, sales and his current role at Systems Transport as a CDL driving instructor. He loved driving and the open road. He made countless friends during his career. He never had a single accident in over 50 years of driving that took him to each of the 48 continental states in the US.
Denny was very active in youth sports, coaching many of his son’s and grandkid’s teams. His passion for sports also led him to football and basketball officiating. He was a highly regarded HS and major college football and basketball referee. He officiated over 20 college football playoff games including 2 NCAA I-AA National Championship games. After 33 years of NCAA College football officiating (Big Sky and Pac-10), he retired with Big Sky Hall of Fame Officiating honors. He then transitioned to the EWU press box as the Officiating Observer for the Big Sky Conference at all EWU home football games for 13 years. The EWU football program quickly became part of his extended family. The past 2 football seasons he was an honorary member of the EWU football staff serving the program by driving the equipment semi-truck to EWU’s away games. In total he was involved in high school and college football for 55 consecutive years.
Denny was so proud of his seven grandchildren. He was their biggest fan attending countless sporting and life events. Each of them followed in Grandpa’s footsteps and played sports.
Denny is survived by his wife Eunice and his brother Jeff. Sons Mike (Robin), Tim (Becky) and Dan (Susan). Grandchildren JD, Tom, Bryan, Mitch, Leah, Ryan and Andrew. His In-Laws Arv and Rich Monaghan and Dean Fuehrer, along with numerous nieces and nephews. Denny is preceded in death by his parents and his Mother and Father In-Law, Ernie and Verla Fuehrer.
Viewing services are open to family and friends at Riplinger Funeral home 4305 N Division from 9-5PM Wed-Thur, Dec 2-3. A Celebration of Life Service will be held at 1:30PM on Friday Dec 4 at Berean Bible Church 10910 E Boone Ave, Spokane Valley WA 99206 immediately followed by an on-site reception.
In lieu of flowers, for those wishing to honor Denny, please make a donation in Dennis Peterson’s name by writing a check to: “EWU Football Excellence Fund”. Then mail to - EWU Attn: Mike Westfall, 102 Hargreaves Hall, Cheney WA 99004. Or Online donation at https://sites.ewu.edu/foundation (click on “Give Now”. In “Honoree Name” field enter “Dennis Peterson EWU Football Excellence Fund”.