James “Jim” and Suzanne “Suzy” Peterson

James “Jim” and Suzanne “Suzy” Peterson
Ages: 87 & 86
Birthplace: Honolulu, Hawai`i
Photographer: Sarah Lewers Peterson (Granddaughter), Age 17 ~ Leilehua High School
Mr. Peterson was born at Queenʻs Hospital in 1929 and raised on the family farm in Wahiawa Heights. He attended Schofield Barracks Childrenʻs School until its closure following the attack at Pearl Harbor. Mr. Peterson then boarded at Iolani for one year, attended Leilehua High School and completed his senior year at Choate in Connecticut. He returned to the University of Hawaii at Manoa where he earned a degree in Agriculture. Following college, he entered the Air Force as a Second Lieutenant for two years and was stationed in Hawai`i where he met and married his college sweetheart, Suzanne Drummond.
 Mrs. Peterson came to Hawaiʻi in 1950 at the urging of two friends who were attending a conference with her in California. She worked in Mānoa caring for two children while also working the late shift at the Libby Pineapple Cannery on Nimitz Hwy.  The Petersons have been married for 64 years and have three children and five grandchildren.  The Petersonʻs continue to be actively involved with the family farm business.
My father was born in Honolulu in 1886 and moved to Wahiawa in 1908 to start a farm after receiving his agriculture degree from Cornell University. He purchased some land from James Dole and lived in a tent on the property until he could build a small house. My mother was born and raised in Chelmsford, England and worked as a war nurse on a hospital ship during World War I. A friend and fellow nurse convinced her to move to Hawai`i, which is where my parents met and eventually got married.
Growing up, my brother Alan and I had fun playing and riding bikes on the farm. We had dairy cows, chickens, shorthorn cattle and poultry. We also raised New Zealand rabbits. Although we had farm chores to do, we had fun going ice skating at the rink in Wahiawa, playing football with friends, and swimming at the creek. Some of our favorite places to eat were Bushnell’s and Kemo’o Farm. My best friend was Howard Ishikawa. His father built a grass tennis court next to the farmhouse and he would play tennis with his parents and brother. As a teenager, I would go spear fishing and set nets with Willie Chang and Roy Tanji on the North Shore.
I met Suzy in my University of Hawaii economics class but just couldn’t find a reason to introduce myself. Finally, one day while she sat at the bus stop I seized the opportunity and asked her for dinner. Her response for me to call her was cordial but I didn’t know whether I had been put down or had scored! Fortunately, one dinner led to another and one night during a theatre guild performance at UH, I slipped a diamond ring on her finger and asked her to marry me.  She reluctantly accepted after explaining that a childhood disease might prevent her from having children to which I replied, “that’s ok because I’ll have you!” 64 years later with three wonderful children, I think that I scored big time and have been wonderfully blessed.
One of the things I learned growing up was the value of getting along with everyone, regardless of race, gender or where they were born.
Consider the impact of your words on others before you begin to speak.

Sarah Lewers Peterson(Granddaughter)

It only seemed right for me to “cross the bridge” by doing this ProjectFocus internship especially since I was born in Wahiawa and my family roots are strong and very closely tied to this community. My family has been very influential in my life (and in the lives of others), and I felt my grandparents’ memories of life in Wahiawa should be treasured forever. It is vital to learn about the history of Wahiawa and capture the essence of the people who helped build it into a thriving town. I learned through this project that kids had much more freedom back then and could roam the town, forest and creek while their parents were working.  It’s much different now. Sarah Lewers Peterson(Granddaughter)
Age 17
Leilehua High School
Photographer: Lisa Uesugi
Kūpuna James “Jim” and Suzanne Peterson
Ages 87 & 86
I love going to the creek behind my house, getting strawberry bubble drinks at Lynneʻs and running with my dogs down Royal Palm Drive. Outside of school, I care for and ride my horses and read about medicine. I plan to attend the University of Washington and medical school to become a psychiatrist.

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