• Last modified 1247 days ago (Jan. 21, 2021)


Grieving husband finds strength to continue tour business

Staff writer

Posted on the refrigerator in Dan Peterson’s kitchen is this quote from Eleanor Roosevelt: “I must do the thing I cannot do.”

Dan said his wife, Linda, placed it there to help her get through 15 years of battling breast cancer. The cancer spread to her brain, but she took an experimental drug that kept her going for another 22 months until her death Sept. 22, he said. She was 70.

Now, he has taken it upon himself to continue Heartland Travel, a tour business the couple established in 2002. He has planned three area tours this year and is signing up travelers.

“It wasn’t an easy decision to make,” he said. “I was sure I wouldn’t ever set my foot on a bus without Linda.”

She was the tour guide.

But people started calling and asking Dan when he was going to schedule tours again. A former science teacher from his days at Centre High School called and encouraged him to keep the tours going.

He got to feeling stronger, and the turning point came in December, when he decided to sit down and figure out what he could do.

“I got emotional and started crying,” he said. “I had to quit.”

Just then, he got a call from a family friend, Connie Johnson. She offered to help him get his business off the ground again. Tours planned for 2020 had been cancelled because of the virus pandemic.

They spent several evenings and a Saturday afternoon getting the facts together for three small tours, and the information was sent to the printer.

“We usually had five tours every year, one big one, and three or four smaller ones,” Dan said. “I don’t feel up to handling a really big trip.”

Trips are scheduled to Oklahoma and Texas in June, the Colorado Springs area in August, and Branson in November.

Dan has sent out more than 460 brochures, and registrations are coming in. Each tour is limited to a busload of 52 to 54 people.

Dan said he’s gotten nice notes from people, such as, “We’re so glad you are letting us travel again.”

He is still mourning the death of his wife.

“I called her Sweet Linda, and she called me Prince Charming,” he said. “She told me she didn’t want me to be sad when she was gone, and I said, ‘You’re the reason I live.’ She was pretty special. I’m not going to be able to fill her shoes, but I can do the organizing.”

Dan said he and Linda have sponsored at least 70 trips. Busses were filled, and other people were on a waiting list. He said some of their customers have become like family. The same bus driver has been with them for many years, and Dan said he is looking forward to being with Dan on the road again.

Dan joined longtime friend Gene Winkler for a heartwarming evening together on New Year’s Eve. Gene had lost his wife, Doris, on Christmas Day. Gene has filled in as tour guide for Linda on several past tours.

Dan is looking forward to this year’s tours.

“The interaction will be good for me,” he said.

Last modified Jan. 21, 2021