Death of the popcorn man

myron_petersonThe popcorn man is gone.

Myron Peterson, 95, an icon in the skyways of St. Paul, has died, MinnPost’s Joe Kimball reports.

At his funeral last weekend, his remains were placed in a popcorn tin.

A strong man, Peterson was hefting giant copper kettles of 160-degree steaming caramel until he was 90. And he made lasting friendships at the shop, greeting and conversing with customers and passers-by.

He was very religious: “He’d offer a prayer if people needed it, right in the shop, right then and there,” [daughter Trudy] Dye said. “He was an encourager, always very positive no matter what noise was going on,” she said. “I don’t think I ever heard my dad complain.”

Peterson grew up on a Wisconsin cattle and potato farm, then enlisted in in the Navy and saw action on Iwo Jima and Okinawa during World War II. He returned home to Lewis, Wisconsin, married Avis and ran a creamery. The couple then opened a dairy bar in Spooner, Wisconsin.

Later they ran a wholesale sandwich business in the Twin Cities before opening their first popcorn shop in 1977, on the block that was soon demolished for the World Trade Center building.

By last year, there was just one Peterson Popcorn store left in the St. Paul skyway, and it closed as the family consolidated to a store in Inver Grove Heights.

After the funeral on Saturday, mourners were given bags of popcorn to take home.