Colonel Peter Day Stearns
Colonel Peter Day Stearns passed away on Tuesday, February 5, 2019, at Community Hospice House in Merrimack, New
Pete was born in Burns, Oregon, on February 7, 1934. His parents, Roland and Arlene Stearns, moved from Burns to Redmond and then to Grants Pass, Oregon where Pete attended public schools. He graduated from Oregon State College with a degree in agriculture, intending to follow in the footsteps of his grandfather and uncles and become a cattle rancher. Having also been a member of the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps, his plans changed when he joined the Army Corps of Engineers. That led to a thirty-year career in the military.
In 1958, Pete married Nan Elise Hagedorn of Prineville, Oregon, who was a friend of Pete’s cousin, Ann. The couple lived a long and happy life together, celebrating their 60th wedding anniversary in June of 2018. Attending the anniversary party at the Bedford Village Inn were fellow officers of the 54th Engineer Battalion and their families. Pete commanded the 54th Engineer Battalion in Wildflecken, Germany in the 1970s and was thrilled to be reunited with these good friends this past summer.
The Stearns family always welcomed their army assignments. Throughout his career, the Stearns moved thirty-two times and had tours in France, Germany, Italy, Taiwan, Hawaii, and Alaska, plus numerous stateside locations. Pete retired at Fort Belvoir, Virginia, in 1986, where he was post commander/chief of staff at the Home of the Engineers. Their only daughter, Heidi Ann Stearns Angle, was married near Fort Belvoir, with the reception at the officers’ club, overlooking the Potomac River.
Pete and Nan moved to Amherst in 1990 to be near Heidi and her family. In retirement, they traveled by pickup truck and travel trailer across Canada, up to Alaska, and places in between. They took trips to Russia and to Vietnam, where Pete had served two tours during the war. Other memorable journeys were to China, Ireland, Scandinavia, down the Danube River nearly to the Black Sea and back to France where they lived when they were first married.
Pete enjoyed his associations with the Amherst and Milford Democrats, was a strong supporter of Women Making a Difference and cared deeply for Souhegan High School. Both Stearns have been political activists since Howard Dean was a candidate. Barack Obama is a hero to Pete and Nan.
Please remember Pete sipping an old fashioned while watching the evening news, with a droll joke on his lips, a kind word for everyone and the beautiful habit of never blowing his own horn.
On the day of his passing, Pete slept peacefully in his bed at Hospice House, covered with a quilt of red, white and blue and a lighted candle at the foot of his bed. A young man who was visiting the facility came into the room with his guitar and played Taps, then gave a sharp salute to this veteran who so loved his country.
Survivors include his wife, Nan, daughter, Heidi, her husband Rich, their son Christopher his sister Susan and her husband John, plus a fine crop of cousins in Oregon, Washington, and California and Idaho. Colonel Peter Stearns will be buried in the Stearns Family plot in Prineville, Oregon, amid his beloved grandparents, parents, aunts, and uncles. Should you wish to offer your condolences, please send a card or make a phone call to Nan, 31 Fells Drive, Amherst, NH 603 673 3730. Instead of sending flowers, the family requests donations to Community Hospice House, 210 Naticook Rd, Merrimack, NH 03054.