He was a Summit County commissioner, a Frisco Town Council member, a jeweler and ski resort developer. But above all, the late Don Peterson was a community builder.
On Tuesday, the Frisco Town Council honored his memory with its newest distinction: Frisco's Finest. The award recognizes citizens who have made a significant contribution to the town. It will be presented at every council meeting, with council members trading off nomination duties each week.
"It could be someone who makes you laugh every day, it could be someone who shovels their neighbor's driveway every morning without being asked to - it could be anyone," said Councilwoman Kim Cancelosi, who nominated Peterson for the award. "We think it's important for the community to feel appreciated and we have so many wonderful people doing exciting things living here."
Peterson died Sept. 28 at 80 years old.
"He was the only one that stuck out in my mind worthy of this award," Cancelosi said. "He did so many things for the community - he was truly iconic."
After moving to Summit County in 1970 from Arvada, Peterson quickly made an impression on the county.
He played a vital role in developing Copper Mountain. He even designed the well-known "C" in the logo for the very first promotional poster. The design is still used today.
He was a longtime business owner, opening Summit Gold Jewelry in 1986 on Frisco's Main Street. For 26 years, the business has provided an inventory of custom jewelry with appraisal and repair services, a legacy his family intends to continue.
Peterson's service to Frisco and the county has a long history. He served as county commissioner for six years from 1982-88 and as a Frisco town councilman from 1996-99.
"He guided projects such as the acquisition of the Peak 1 parcel, the construction of the Frisco Fire Station and Frisco Town Hall," Cancelosi said. "These are all major accomplishments for our town, everyday we all see what has come about due to his foresight and leadership."
Total, Peterson was involved in 47 separate land and building developments during his service to the town.
"He was very kind, very gentle," friend and former Summit County Commissioner Gary Lindstrom said. "I never knew anybody who didn't like him."
Happy tears flowed as Peterson's family accepted the award on his behalf. His wife, Jane; his two daughters, Lyn Phillips and Donna Peterson; his son-in-law, Dave Phillips; and other various family members and friends stood before council as Mayor Gary Wilkinson presented the award.
"He would have been very proud," said his wife, Jane. "He would have been humbled and very touched by this award. He was a great man."
Peterson said the honorary plaque will be displayed in the family's shop on Main Street.
"He touched a lot of lives," said Dave Phillips. "When one of your go-to guys dies, the responsibility increases in some ways. I definitely miss him."
Peterson said customers still come to Summit Gold Jewelry daily looking for Don.
"It happened just the other day - someone that came by to chat with him was sad to hear that he's not around. A lot of people still don't know that he's gone," she said. "He left an impression on everyone he met."