Josiah Aaron Peterson

CHATHAM, MI – Josiah Aaron Peterson, 10, of Chatham, MI passed away at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, August 1, from a fungal brain infection following a two-month treatment for leukemia.

Even at such a young age Josiah was already an adventurer, naturalist, avid reader, and environmentalist. Josiah had a scientist’s curious mind and a caring heart. He was quiet and observant, engaged and interested, silly and playful. Many called him an old and beautiful soul.

In late May, Josiah complained of a sore shoulder, and soon after was diagnosed with T-Cell Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. He immediately began chemotherapy in Milwaukee, and after a hard month was in remission, though severely weakened. Josiah hated the pokes, beeps, bright lights and noise of the hospital and the city, but he understood what he was up against and took it all in stride.

On July 1st, he was able to return to the Upper Peninsula, sit on the deck, eat a homemade pasty and listen to the birds sing. He said it was beautiful, and stayed outside in a screen tent until dark listening to the hermit thrushes welcome the night. But he soon spiked a fever and had to return to the hospital on July 4th.

Josiah loved science and nature and he understood the cycles of the natural world. He liked facts and learning, and he’d want you to know that the chemotherapy treatment for the cancer weakened his immune system which allowed a common mold spore, called Aspergillus, which we all encounter every day, to grow in his lungs. The infection travelled to his brain where it eventually created enough pressure inside that his brain could no longer control his breathing and heartbeat. Josiah passed away peacefully while his mama and papa held him.

While his family and friends grieve his early passing, they are comforted by the quantity and quality of life he squeezed into his single decade. Josiah loved to canoe and fish and had already been to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area of Minnesota, the Slate Islands of Lake Superior and many of the lakes and rivers of the Upper Peninsula. He had poked around the tide pools of the Pacific Coast, hiked along streams of the Smoky Mountains, rafted the Flathead River in Montana and marveled at the Arches and Canyonlands of Utah. He planted and harvested gardens, raised chickens and picked wild apples that he helped squeeze for cider annually.

He was happiest in the outdoors and especially loved winter. He loved sledding and skiing, and even shoveling and bringing in firewood. Though he had skied larger slopes out West and in Michigan, he was happiest doing laps and hitting jumps at little Hiawatha Slopes ski hill in Chatham. Josiah found happiness in the smallest of things.

Josiah is survived by his best friend and little sister, Isla Peterson; his mama, Kristen Lenzner Peterson of Marquette; his papa, Aaron Peterson of Tilden Township; his papa’s partner, Candy Fletcher of Tilden Township; all his grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins from Wisconsin and Montana; his dog, Millie and rabbits, Joe and Bob of Tilden Township.

A Celebration of Life will be held Monday, August 12, from 5-7:30 pm, at Belsoda Farm, 488 Mangum Road, Marquette, Michigan. The celebration will be family friendly with music, children’s activities and food vendors.

In honor of Josiah’s love for reading the family encourages attendees to bring a book to exchange, as well as dress in blue, Josiah’s favorite color.

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