LeRoy L. Peterson, Jr.
October 19, 1942 – October 19, 2022
LeRoy L. Peterson Jr. died peacefully in Edina, Minnesota, on Oct. 19, 2022. He was 80 years old.
He was preceded in death by his parents, LeRoy and Elizabeth Peterson; sister, Karen Peterson; brother, Greg Peterson.
He is survived by his former wife and mother of his daughters, Marcella Peterson; daughters: Erica (Jim) Bush and Paige (Ben) Hardy of Omaha, NE; sister, Mary Sieling of Fergus Falls, MN; grandchildren: Samuel Hardy, Owen Hardy, Libby Hardy, Eli Hardy, and Audrey Bush, all of Omaha, NE; many nieces and nephews.
LeRoy L. Peterson, Jr. was born on October 19, 1942, in Superior, WI, to Bette and Pete Peterson. Leroy lived in Superior, WI, with his mother and his maternal grandparents, John and Mary Waligura. LeRoy was born when his father was away at war. He was the first grandchild in the Waligura family and was the apple of his grandparents’ eye. He often spoke of the close relationship he had with his grandparents. LeRoy would bake with his grandmother and do puzzles with his grandfather. LeRoy was a bright, energetic toddler that possessed a zest for life. When his father returned home from the war, the family moved multiple times and finally ended up in Fergus Falls, MN, in 1949. LeRoy would attend elementary and high school in Fergus Falls, MN. His family built a cabin in nearby Elizabeth, MN, on Long Lake. LeRoy loved spending time on the water and in nature.
He attended St. Cloud State University, where he majored in Political Science. He returned back home to Fergus Falls, MN, and began bartending at the Elks Club. It was here that he met Jim Witherspoon, owner of Pamida. While LeRoy was dealing cards at the club, Jim offered LeRoy a job with Pamida in the Advertising, Sales, and Promotion Department in Omaha, NE. LeRoy was the youngest vice president at Pamida. He was successful in expanding Pamida into a household name in numerous communities throughout the Midwest. Pamida acquired SEAWAY Importing Company, and LeRoy was given a chance to run this small company. This experience leading SEAWAY inspired him to dream big and ultimately start his own importing company. LeRoy, along with his friend, Jim Koranda, opened Sportsstuff in 1988.
Under LeRoy’s leadership, Sportstuff became an industry leader and major supplier of inflatable, towable water sports products. LeRoy loved being in business and made many sacrifices to make this business successful. He was a creative artist and would sketch his inflatable ideas and then make them a reality. All of the years he spent at the family cabin enabled him to possess a great imagination for what people might enjoy while spending time on the water. He would spend hours sketching renditions of what each product should look like and how it should work. LeRoy’s sketches would come to life with the help of his team. These products would fill the shelves of major retailers such as Bass Pro Shops, Cabela’s, Walmart, and other sports outlets.
LeRoy lived many months at a time in China to help oversee the production of his products. He loved being in China and traveled throughout the country. Upon returning to the states after a long trip to China, LeRoy would tell stories of his adventures and talk about the next product he was going to develop.
In 2010, LeRoy co-founded a new company with Jason Koranda, World of Watersports (WOW). Even at age 68, he brought the same energy to WOW that he had demonstrated in his youth at Pamida. LeRoy continued to create unique towable rides that all water enthusiasts can enjoy. His patented versions of these towable designs will continue to live on in the water sports world. His creativity, happy-go-lucky attitude, and drive to be successful will always be remembered. The week before he died, LeRoy was attending a convention with his WOW team. He never wanted to miss a convention with his WOW family, and he was very proud of their efforts and dedication to the company.
LeRoy Peterson Jr. was a hardworking man with a gentle heart and a love for his family. He believed in luck and always considered himself lucky. Whether you were his friend or acquaintance, he always gave people the benefit of the doubt. LeRoy was especially proud of the lives that his two daughters had created. He enjoyed his sons-in-law’s company at family dinners and loved his grandchildren. He loved watching the grandchildren dance and sing at family gatherings. Throughout his life, he remained positive, saw the good in others, and always kept looking for the next adventure. LeRoy’s memory will live on with his family and friends.
MEMORIAL MASS: Thursday, October 27th at 10:30 a.m., St. Robert Bellarmine Catholic Church, 11802 Pacific St. In lieu of flowers, memorials are suggested to St. Robert Bellarmine Catholic Church and NorthStar Foundation.