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Gail C. Petersen

Gail (Dachelet) Petersen, 97, of Sturgeon Bay passed away peacefully on June 24, 2023. She was born on October 3, 1925 to Nelson and Esther (Leist) Dachelet in Manitowoc, WI. Gail was united in marriage to Arnold C. Petersen “Arnie” on September 29, 1945 at Bay View Lutheran Church in Sturgeon Bay.  Arnie and Gail were blessed with 49 years of marriage until his death in 1994.

Gail and Arnie cherished their family, friends, and deep love for Sturgeon Bay and the maritime community. Other than 5 years they spent in Cairo, IL they spent their entire life together in Sturgeon Bay where they built their first and current home in 1954.  They leave a business legacy tied to Door County. Arnie was president of a partnership that brought Marine Travelift back to Sturgeon Bay in 1969 where Arnie stayed until he retired in 1985.

Gail enjoyed people and loved to stay engaged in world events. She had a passion for politics and a love of our country. She got her first job at age 16 working at Woolworth’s candy counter and soda fountain where she earned $.25/hr. Gail often recounted her childhood memories and home near the Nautical Inn, a one-bedroom apartment that her mother rented for $10/month. She shared many stories about life in Sturgeon Bay throughout the years including during World War II, working at the Nightingale Supper Club, Prange’s, Miller’s Clothing, and the first time she saw her future husband Arnie who caught her eye as he was getting his shoes shined and reading a newspaper.  

During Gail’s lifetime, she was actively involved in her church and community organizations including the Door County Memorial Hospital Auxiliary, volunteering as a Candy Striper and at the Blood Bank. Gail graduated from SBHS in 1944 and later served on the Sturgeon Bay School Board from 1978-1984.  She enjoyed social activities with the Sturgeon Bay Women’s Golf Association, Couples golf, Golfing-Bowlers, Bridge Club, Gin Rummy Club, and the Door County Republican Party.

Gail spent 14 winters in AZ and enjoyed many new friendships along with special trips with her daughter, Suzanne. She attributed her health and longevity to her special time at the Islander RV Resort in Lake Havasu City, AZ. 

She was often seen with her longtime friends, Pearl Beane, Lois Michelson, Jane Holen, Margie Larsen, and Priscilla Brockett, as they met for coffee on Sundays after church. The were coined as “The Sturgeon Bay Golden Girls.”

Gail loved to drive her white 2006 Ford Minivan affectionately named, “White Lightning” by her family because of her heavy foot and ability to use her white hair to turn a speeding ticket into a warning.

Gail’s grandchildren and great grandchildren had many family traditions for their visits to Grandma’s house which always included Birmingham’s Bar and Restaurant for the famous perch fish fry, The Farm, Roast Chicken at The Mill, The Lodge, and most recently Monday night, Surf and Turf at The Nightingale. Grandma Gail spent many hours with the kids playing Rummy, shooting pool, mini golf and baking their favorite sweet treats with and for the Grandchildren. She continued her love of reading, doing brain games, and knitting dish cloths to give away to others.

In her final months, Gail eagerly reflected on going to heaven and reuniting with her husband, daughters, mother, and meeting her dad that passed away when she was 3 years old.

Gail’s family would like to extend a special thank you to Pine Crest Village, Unity Hospice, St. Peter’s Church, and friends for their love, care and compassion. Thank you to Pat Kring for being a special friend that always made her white hair look gorgeous.

Gail is survived by her two grandchildren, Kirk (Marcia) Hanratty, Elm Grove, WI; Kim (Dennis) Doyle, Chenequa, WI; four great-grandchildren, Kyle (Catherine) Hanratty, Jacksonville, FL; Max Hanratty (Helen Chang) New York, NY; Taylor (Dr. Taylor Loeffler) Doyle, Elm Grove, WI; Matthew Doyle (Alyssa Oldenburg) Chenequa, WI; niece Joan (Lenny) Shefchik, Green Bay, WI; nephews, Phil (Linda) Baye, De Pere, WI; Paul Baye (Suzanne Beers) Colorado Springs, CO; son-in-law John Strong, Sturgeon Bay, WI.  

Preceded in death by her parents, husband, daughters Suzanne Strong and Kaye Petersen; and son-in-law Thomas P. Hanratty. 

Visitation will begin at 10:00am on Friday, July 7 at St. Peter’s Lutheran Church, 108 W Maple St, Sturgeon Bay. Memorial services to follow at 11:00 am. The burial will be in Bayside Cemetery. Forbes Funeral Home is assisting the family.  Memorials may be directed to St. Peters Lutheran Church & School Building Fund (108 W. Maple St. Sturgeon Bay) or contact Maas Floral (920-743-6518) for family requests.

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