His wife, a gregarious grandmother, worked until she was 69 and won countless friends along the way.
Together, they made each other happy.
Those were some of the observations shared during a memorial service Sunday afternoon in a bright red barn that serves as a community center between Granite Falls and Arlington. The gathering brought together more than 150 family members and friends of David "Red" and Leslie "DeeDee" Pedersen.
Little was said about the callous way the couple was killed Sept. 26: he, by gunfire; she, by knife. Those close to them wanted to talk about how the Everett couple spent their lives instead of how they died.
Tom Bear of California was Red Pedersen's sergeant in the Marines more than 30 years ago. The two continued to visit each other over the years.
"Red fulfilled his destiny," Bear said. "He served God, country and Corps. He has earned that American flag."
It was difficult for Bear to comprehend his death. He'd held Red Pedersen's son, David Joseph "Joey" Pedersen, in the hospital when he was born. Joey Pedersen, 31, and Holly Grigsby, 24, are charged in the slayings and also are suspected of killing Oregon teenager Cody Myers and Reginald Alan Clark, 53, of Eureka, Calif.
The suspects, who have ties to white supremacist groups and lengthy criminal rap sheets, justified killing Red Pedersen, 56, by claiming he had molested relatives many years ago. Everett police have said that investigators have not confirmed the molestation claims.
Prosecutors said the Everett killings were committed during a robbery that included stealing a Jeep and multiple credit and debit cards from the couple. The suspects could face the death penalty.
"I just want to apologize to Red for not being there to protect him," Bear said. "A sergeant protects his men. I wasn't there."
Jody Halvorson of Everett worked with DeeDee Pedersen over the years.
She admired how much Red Pedersen adored his wife and described him "as jolly as any St. Nick ever was."
Halvorson said she was excited that the Pedersens had just moved to Everett.
DeeDee Pedersen had recently retired and the long-time friends looked forward to spending more time together.
"She was irreplaceable," Halvorson said.
Peggy Witten became friends with DeeDee Pedersen at work in a law office 47 years ago.
"The one thing DeeDee was most proud of was her children," Witten said.
A 1960 Everett High School graduate, DeeDee Pedersen was a legal secretary for more than 20 years. She later did transcription from home before getting into the health care field, working with medical records.
Red and DeeDee Pedersen met on a Valentine's Day blind date 13 years ago and married in 2004 on Valentine's Day.
Her daughter, Lori Nemitz, said she fondly remembers how her mom would sit down with her children during the holidays each December and read to them from the family Bible about the birth of Jesus.
"I basically still have that memorized because I heard it so often, but it was one of those priceless holiday memories," she said.
Another daughter, Susan Ellis, remembers when her mom threw her a private high school graduation because she couldn't attend her commencement.
Steven and Peter Pedersen were Red Pedersen's older brothers.
Both said they were thankful that Red found DeeDee. She brought out the best in him when he struggled to find his way after his medical discharge from the Marines.
She "took someone like David (Red) who was lost and in misery and turned him around," Peter Pedersen said.
Vincent Hennick, Spc. E4, showed up to the memorial in his U.S. Army uniform.
He and Red Pedersen once drove for the same Mount Vernon trucking company.
Red Pedersen convinced Hennick to enlist in the military three years ago. So, at the age of 39, that's what he did.
"I would not be wearing this if not for Red," Hennick said. "I did it for Red. I did it for my country. I did it for my family."
He said he always will be thankful his paths crossed with Red and DeeDee Pedersen.
"I will take their love with me wherever I go," he said.
Eric Stevick: 425-339-3446, email@example.com
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