You know the old story … country boy goes to college in the big city; stays in the big city; meets Iranian girl online; visits girl in Istanbul; proposes and asks girl to move to America; and they live happily ever after, right? Well, this may not be the typical boy meets girl story, but not much about West Bank Senior Building and Grounds Worker Dave Peterson is typical.
Peterson works 12 hour days on Saturday-Sunday, and eight hours on Monday-Tuesday. He and one other B&G are responsible for all West Bank custodial duties on weekends. The odd schedule has its perks and challenges. While Peterson can get a lot done around town during the week when everyone else is working, it’s tough to visit with family or go out on the town on the weekend when everyone else is free.
One person was very fortunate that Peterson was on campus during a Saturday this past summer. He and a co-worker were crossing the Washington Avenue Bridge after helping clean-up a flood on the East Bank when they came upon a pedestrian that had climbed over the railing and looked like he was about to jump. Peterson got out of the vehicle while his co-worker called the police. He engaged the man in conversation long enough for the campus and city police to arrive and convince the man to move away from the edge to safety.
This was probably not the kind of excitement Peterson expected when he came to the U from Alpha, Minn. “Coming from a small town, I just wanted to go someplace more exciting,” remembered Peterson. “I felt that Alpha was the end of the earth and the university was like a supermarket that had everything. It was fantastic!”
A 1992 U of M graduate in political science, Peterson had a student job in the St. Paul campus poultry barns. After graduation he worked at the state legislature for one session before deciding that he wanted to get back to working at the U. His initial plan was to return to the poultry barn, but when he realized there weren’t any openings there he applied for and accepted a B&G job in FM.
The summer after college Peterson also began to pursue a lifelong passion for travel by spending the summer in Europe. Over the years he has seen most of the capitals of Europe and the travel bug eventually led Peterson to his wife.
He met Nahal through the dating site Match.com in 2004. Eventually, they began talking on the phone and decided that they should meet each other face-to-face in Istanbul, since it would be complicated and expensive for either of them to travel to the other’s homeland. They hit it off in Turkey and subsequently applied for a fiancée visa for Nahal. The couple was married in 2006. While he hasn’t been to Iran, Peterson has met Nahal’s parents on a second trip the couple took to Turkey.
The couple lives in St. Paul and enjoys traveling (they’ve also been to California and Washington, D.C.), watching movies and cooking together. Her specialty is Iranian food and his Scandinavian background has led him to pursue more flavorful foods, like Spanish cuisine.
In his spare time, Peterson enjoys woodworking and exercise. He recently got his law degree from William Mitchell College of Law and hopes to someday combine his facilities expertise and law degree into a unique career.
As a world traveler, movie buff, woodworker, romantic, lawyer and good Samaritan, Dave Peterson is anything but typical.