SUBMITTED BY LOIS BATES OF THE BINGHAM COUNTY HISTORICAL SOCIETY
Everyone liked the young boy Billy Coleman in the family movie, “Where the Red Fern Grows.” Stewart Petersen was 14 years old when he tried out for the part and portrayed the part of Billy Coleman.
Stewart Petersen will be the speaker at the June 5th meeting of the Bingham County Historical Society. He will discuss his life, movie career and why he did not pursue it, and the importance of being a father. He was born in 1960 on a cattle ranch in Cokeville, Wyo.
After starring in “Where the Red Fern Grows,” he went on to star in six other family features over the next seven years. This included the 1976 portrayal of Joseph Smith in “The First Vision.”
He served a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the Netherlands and played football for Ricks College in Rexburg. This is where he met and married one of the Blackfoot girls, Chemene Goodwin, also attending Rick’s College. She is the daughter of Connie and the late Jerry Goodwin. The Petersens will celebrate 30 years of marriage on June 24. Stewart was also on the wrestling team at BYU and studied business management.
While living in Provo, Utah, their first two children, Brittany and Landon, were born. However Stewart opted for an ordinary life and returned to Cokeville, Wyo. He loved the outdoor life and created the guide service “Magic Mountain Outfitters” for big game hunters and summer pack trips. He owned and operated a custom frame building company, but today you will find him home for two weeks and back in the oil fields of North Dakota for two weeks.
Returning to Cokeville, he was soon serving on the town council. He helped to create the Cokeville Chamber of Commerce and became its president. He chaired the economic development committee and served as a trustee on the Lincoln County School Board. Active in the LDS Church, he has served as a bishop.
Stewart and Chemene have been blessed with three sons â€” Landon, Beau and Jace â€” and three daughters â€” Brittany, Camille and Katelyn.
Now 53 years later, he reflects on his brief acting career and is grateful he did not pursue it. He likes his family life and his little Wyoming town.
The BCHS meeting Wednesday, June 5, will begin at 7 p.m. at the Senior Citizen Center, located at 20 E. Pacific Street in Blackfoot. The public is invited.