An unlikely hero emerges thanks to COVID-19

Louise Oleson, DLJ editor
Pete Pederson poses in Ramsey Photos, his shop located in the heart of the historic downtown shopping district of Devils Lake, ND.

If you know Pete Pederson from Ramsey Photos in Devils Lake, N.D., try to think of one word to describe him.

Some that may come to mind might be feisty, argumentative, curmudgeon, opinionated, ornery or scrapper. How am I doing?

How about hero?

Yes, we live in unusual times and the COVID-19 pandemic has challenged the way most of us do things today and the way we see those around us. When Frank Mack and Jamie Leevers of Leever’s Family Foods see Pete Pederson, they see a hero who came to help their customers during a crisis.

It was at the very beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic hitting North Dakota. Social distancing, staying home, wearing face masks if you have to go out - everything was just beginning. “There wasn’t anything to do at the shop,” Pederson said. “No one was stopping by, what was I going to do? I was slowly going out of my mind?” “I had to do something!”

So he stopped in to Leevers Corporate offices and announced, “I’ve come to help.” I’ve lived here my whole life, I have a valid drivers license and if nothing else, I can deliver groceries to people who need them, he explained.

And that’s exactly what he did.

They put him on the payroll so he could drive the company van delivering much needed supplies to those in need throughout the community. He said the people, like those in assisted living, needed their groceries, but if they left the building to go shopping, they would have to isolate themselves in self-quarantine for 14 days before they came back in the building, so Pederson could get them what they needed from the grocery store instead and they would stay home and be safe.

He worked for over 100 hours and when they tried to pay him for his work, he refused to accept the money, instead asked Jamie to give it in gift cards to his full-time employees and if he needed more money, maybe Jamie could match it.

So that’s what Jamie did, too.

You see the situation, Pederson has a way about him. He doesn’t want to be thought of as a hero, “I do have a certain reputation to maintain,” he said with a mischievous grin.

He also was quick to point out that he wasn’t the only one. He tattled on Chuck Jerome, too, who volunteered to help stock shelves at Leevers' store during a time when they needed help the most, another community hero who couldn’t just sit at home and watch soap operas all day.

A big “Thank You” goes out to all of our community heroes who are helping us make it through this pandemic one day at a time.

If you know someone whom we should know is a community hero, send that name and contact information to Louise at

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