Dorothy Russell Peterson Brown

Dorothy Russell Peterson Brown, 92 of Spearfish, South Dakota, passed away on May 5, 2014, at the David M. Dorsett Healthcare Center in Spearfish.

She was born on April 5, 1922, in Wanblee, South Dakota, to Andrew and Sophia Russell. Dorothy was an enrolled member of the Oglala Sioux Tribe and lived the first eighteen years of her life on the Pine Ridge Reservation in Western South Dakota.

She began her education at the Day School in Wanblee which she attended through sixth grade and then transferred to the public school system. She graduated from Wanblee High School in 1940 as salutatorian of her class. In the fall of that year she enrolled in Spearfish Normal School and earned a two year teaching certificate and then a Bachelor’s Degree. Additionally, she attended the University of Wyoming, as well as the University of Arizona, where she received her Master’s Degree.

While attending college in Spearfish in 1940, she met Stanley Peterson, a fellow freshman from Nisland. In the spring of 1941, they were married in Sundance, Wyoming. They worked for a while in defense industries at the beginning of World War II. Eventually, they returned to South Dakota and Stanley entered the service and Dorothy worked in Belle Fourche. Stanley died in a glider crash in England before their son, William was born on April 4, 1945.

In 1946, while entering a theater in Spearfish she met a former classmate from Wanblee, Max Brown. They began a relationship that led to their marriage on January 31, 1947.

Dorothy’s teaching career began in South Dakota at the school in Nisland where she taught first grade. Later she taught the upper grades in Saint Onge. After Max graduated from Black Hills State College in 1949, they accepted teaching positions in Holtville, California. After teaching two years in California they moved to Torrington, Wyoming, where they taught for two years before going to Vaughn, Washington, where they taught one year and then returned to Torrington. They spent the next five years teaching in Torrington where their son, Bruce was born. In 1959, they moved to Elma, Washington, where they taught for eight years. During this time she became the school librarian. Upon returning to Torrington in 1967 Dorothy became the Eastern Wyoming College Librarian, a position she held for twenty years and retired as Librarian Emeritus.

A long time professional colleague of Dorothy’s recently described her as a thoughtful and dedicated library professional who showed great care for her patrons. She was someone you looked forward to talking to and interacting with, leaving you in better spirits.

After their retirement they moved to Arizona to be closer to their two granddaughters. After nine years they moved to Spearfish to be closer to family. Dorothy greatly enjoyed watching her granddaughters playing high school sports.

In 2012 Dorothy and Max became residents of Edgewood Vista until 2014 when, due to failing health, Dorothy moved to the Dorsett Home.

She is survived by her husband, Max; sons, William (Pat) Peterson, Bruce (Teresa) Brown; granddaughters, Madison and Marti Brown and Tatanya Pray. She was preceded in death by her parents; her first husband Stanley and siblings, Namoi, Joseph, Floyd, Robert and Louise.

Memorial service will be at 10 a.m. on Thursday, May 15, 2014 at the Fidler-Isburg Funeral Chapel in Spearfish.

Arrangements are under the care of Fidler-Isburg Funeral Chapels and Crematory Service of Spearfish. Online condolences may be written at