Peter Ralph Carney, age 88, passed away September 18, 2021 after a brave and protracted battle with cancer. He was born February 7, 1933 in Grand Forks, North Dakota to Wallace and Lillian Carney. Peter had two brothers: Jack & Jim, who preceded him in death and who he loved a great deal.
Peter was raised in East Grand Forks, Minnesota – his love for his hometown was very strong and unrelenting – always pulling for his hometown teams. He was educated at Sacred Heart Catholic school until the 8th grade then attended East Grand Forks Central High School. Peter participated in many activities and sports. He was elected to the student council and served as treasurer for his senior year (1950-1951) and was also the editor of the student newspaper. He loved boxing, hockey, and football; he was known for his lightning-quick reflexes. The current head coach of the varsity EGF high school football team, Ryan Kasowski, sent Peter a team photo and heartfelt card. The coach indicated that they were rooting for him and dedicated the home game against Park Rapids to him. As a special touch, they had Peter’s old number #58 jersey on the sideline. The Green Wave won it for Peter by a score of 27-0; one cannot imagine a better hometown final salute.
The Fall after graduating from high school, Peter started college. He completed two years of studies before electing to enlist in the United States Army during the Korean War. After basic training, he was sent abroad to Fort Kobbe – Panama Canal Zone where he remained for the duration of his service. After an honorable discharge and using the G.I. Bill, Peter continued at the University of North Dakota where he would complete the last two years of his studies, and earned a Bachelors of Science degree majoring in Education and minoring in History & Natural Science.
Peter taught at Red Lake Falls High School from 1958-1960 and became the head coach of the varsity hockey team. Peter felt a mix of guilt and pride after leading his new team to a 4-0 victory over his old high school – The Green Wave of East Grand Forks – later saying he was only trying to assist his old team by exposing their weakness so they could be improved upon. Peter also maintained that Gentry Academy was a national hockey clinic masquerading as a high school and declared the Green Wave 2020 Class “A” champions – a position with which the vast majority of Twin Cities residents concur.
Peter accepted a new position with Northern States Power in 1960 and lived in Grand Forks until transferring to Minneapolis a few years later where he would meet his bride-to-be, Karen Thompson, also a new arrival from Green Bay, Wisconsin. They married in 1966 and had two children: Jennifer (1969) and Patrick (1972). His granddaughter, Alexandra, arrived in 2001 bringing much joy to Peter and the rest of the family.
Peter never gave up his love for hockey. In the late 1970s he formed a vastly successful senior league headquartered in Burnsville, MN. This became broadly popular with many hockey enthusiasts over the next couple decades; he made a great many friends through this venture. Peter finally hung up his skates for the last time in his early 60s.
Peter took his family back to East Grand Forks every summer where he would reunite and visit with dear friends & family. After the great Red River flood of 1997, he traveled to the Eastside to help clear debris and provide any needed support services. He was devastated to see the town destroyed – his childhood home was lost and the entire neighborhood would not be rebuilt due to future flood risks.
Peter was a devout Catholic his entire life and had belonged to a great many parishes over his lifetime. He attended the private Catholic school, Sacred Heart, until the 8th grade. After relocating to the Twin Cities, he was a congregant of many churches. He attended St. Joseph’s in Rosemount until the newly built St. John Newmann opened in Eagan in the early 1980s. Once there, Peter served as a weekly lector for a decade. Peter and his wife Karen downsized and moved once their children left the proverbial nest. He elected to attend St. Joan of Arc in Minneapolis for a couple years. Since 2001, he had attended weekly mass at Mary Mother of the Church in Burnsville.
For over thirty years Peter worked for Northern States Power (now Xcel Energy) in downtown Minneapolis in multiple roles. He retired in 1995 and quickly took up new hobbies such as mushroom hunting and producing stained-glass windows – a laborious endeavor requiring near-infinite patience (and tolerance for repeat finger-shredding by jagged glass). While Peter was extremely humble regarding his works of art, he was surprised to win five first-place ribbons for his stained-glass submissions at the Minnesota State Fair. He also joined a mycology club called Fungus Among Us where he would learn about local edible mushrooms. He had top-secret locations around town where he would go and traipse around the forest to harvest tasty Morel mushrooms.
Peter had many hobbies and spent many hours toiling in his large flower and vegetable gardens (and swearing vengeance on the critters eating his plants). Peter was an avid reader too, enjoying mysteries and history books. He would visit the Eagan library weekly, and it was astonishing how quickly he could read a book from cover to cover. Peter had an elaborate workshop where he made all manner of wooden items: crosses, clocks, furniture, wine racks, cedar chests, bookshelves, and carvings. When not in the garden or workshop, Peter could be found in the kitchen creating gourmet meals or baking treats. He had become an expert chef after taking several cooking classes throughout his lifetime – and he very much enjoyed the fruits of his gastronomic labor, as did his family.
Peter was very engaged in his children’s lives and supported them in many ways. For his daughter Jennifer, he would become a coach for her softball team for many years of her adolescence. For his son Patrick, Peter participated in the local Boy Scout troop – eventually serving on the board as treasurer – until Patrick attained the rank of Eagle Scout and went off to college. Peter made certain that his wife and children had everything they always needed; it would be an understatement to say he was a good provider.
Peter believed heavily in charity and giving back to community. When more able-bodied, Peter volunteered many hours with Habitat for Humanity, Little Brothers Friends of the Elderly, Loaves & Fishes, Minneapolis Society for the Blind, and numerous veteran’s organizations. Peter gave generously to The Cancer Society, PBS, Wounded Warriors, The American Heart Association, and University of North Dakota. Among all of his acts of kindness, Peter was most proud of donating massive amounts of his O-negative blood to the Memorial Blood Centers over 50 years. His gallons of gifted blood were mostly used for intrauterine transfusions – saving countless souls from Fetal Anemia, a potentially life-threatening condition if not detected in a timely manner.
Peter and his wife Karen took to traveling during their golden years. Together they ventured to nearly fifty countries on six continents over a two-decade span. Among his most enjoyed trips was an Alaskan cruise with wife Karen, daughter Jennifer and granddaughter Alexandra; the other with his son Patrick as they toured Russia in 2011 for almost three weeks – though he threatened to toss Patrick in the Volga River due to his insufferable snoring.
Peter is survived by his wife, Karen Carney; son Patrick Carney; daughter & son-in-law, Jennifer & Mark Krueger; granddaughter, Alexandra Lentz; step-granddaughter, Danielle Krueger; sisters-in-law Bernie Carney, Amy Carney, Barbara Tingley; brothers-in-law Roger Thompson & Ron Hildeen, and numerous nieces & nephews.
A private Catholic funeral service for immediate family was held at Mary, Mother of the Church on Saturday September 25, 2021 officiated by Father Jim Perkl, followed by interment at Fort Snelling National Cemetery. Special thanks go to Archbishop Hebda, leader of the Minneapolis-St. Paul Archdiocese, for issuing, in-person, the sacrament of Anointing of the Sick (Last Rites) to Peter on September 3, 2021.
In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to the Our Lady of Peace Residential Hospice in Saint Paul whose kind, attentive, and expert staff made Peter’s last chapter remarkably comfortable and deeply meaningful – to the great relief of Peter’s family & friends.