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Dr. Leo Charles Peters

Published: Monday, July 28, 2014 11:05 a.m. CDT • Updated: Monday, July 28, 2014 11:56 a.m. CDT

Dr. Leo Charles Peters, 82, formerly of Ames, died July 20, 2014. Visitation with the family will be held at St. Thomas Aquinas Church, 2210 Lincoln Way in Ames from 4 to 6 p.m. Tuesday, July 29, with a prayer vigil to follow. A funeral mass will be held at St. Thomas Aquinas at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday, July 30, with private burial to follow.

Leo was born on Sept. 21, 1931, to Charles and Helen (Burian) Peters in Smith County Kan. After graduating from Smith Center High School in 1949, he attended Kansas State University, graduating with a bachelor’s degree in agricultural engineering in 1953. Following his graduation, Leo moved to Waterloo where he worked for John Deere until 1954, at which time he was called up for active duty by the Air Force. Leo served in the 839th Engineering Battalion of the Special Category Army with Air Force, which was sent to the Korean War to build infrastructure and provide engineering support to the Fifth Air Force Headquarters. Following his military service, Leo returned to John Deere, where he met his wife, Suzanne Gordon, who was a student at Iowa State Teacher’s College in Cedar Falls. They were married in 1957, in Newton. The couple relocated to Ames in 1962, where they lived until 2011. Leo completed his masters and PhD programs at Iowa State and became a professor of mechanical engineering. He retired from the university in 1996. In addition to his teaching responsibilities, Leo had a private consulting practice and served as a consultant and expert witness in litigation related to patent infringement and products liability. Given his outwardly serious nature and reserved demeanor, Leo’s dry, sharp wit and eclectic tastes could be surprising. He loved British comedy, polka music, Prairie Home Companion and M*A*S*H. He was also a long time season ticket holder for Iowa State basketball, football and wrestling. True to his nature, he prided himself on having never skipped a football game due to weather, and refused to leave, even when wind chills dropped, or the Cyclones were hopelessly behind.

Leo had a love of food, and photographic memory of the menu of nearly every restaurant at which he had eaten. Whether you were looking for the best rolls in Missouri, or a rhubarb pie without strawberries, Leo knew exactly where to find it. His own culinary tastes were questionable at best. Having been raised on a farm during the Great Depression, he could not bear to see anything go to waste. Leo believed his masterpiece to be his “Perpetual Casserole” in which whatever leftover he could find would be combined and baked, with the leftovers retained to be combined with the next days’ finds. Cranberry sauce and vegetables; turkey and chow mein; to Leo, there were no boundaries to the palates one could combine. While he was an incredibly intelligent, incredibly eccentric man, what Leo will be remembered for most was his sincerity, his generosity, and his pride in and devotion to his family, his students and his friends.

Leo is survived by his children, Mark (Marie) Peters, Brian (Joan) Peters, Lisa (Jackson) Price, Juliette Peters, Diane Peters (David Rix), Nancy Peters, Amy Peters, Teresa Peters (Eric Reed) and Eric (Katie) Peters. He is also survived by his grandchildren, Stephen (Teresa) Peters and their children Isabel and Ethan; Michael Peters; Andrew Peters; Ellen Peters; Lindsay Price, Jackson Price, Spencer Price and his daughter Chloe, Brandon (Lindsay) Fiscus, Nichole Fiscus (Charles Trueblood), Ryan Fiscus and son Jake, Jillian Rix and Lara Rix, Jared Kline and Sarah Kline, Jacob Jimenez and Joseph Jimenez, Jack Reed and Helen Reed, and Lauren Peters and Claire Peters. Additional survivors include his sisters, Rita (Van Iden) Zeiler and Ruth (Roy) Singleton; as well as his sister in law, Barbara Peters; and ten nieces and nephews.

He was preceded in death by his wife, Suzanne Gordon Peters; his parents, Charles and Helen Peters; and his brother, Glen Peters.

Memorial Services of Iowa in Ankeny is handling funeral arrangements. Online condolences may be expressed at www.MemorialServicesofIowa.com. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that memorial contributions be directed to the Ames Education Foundation, St. Thomas Aquinas Church, or to the Iowa State Education Foundation.

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