Father Val Peter was Boys Town executive director

Longtime executive director of Boys Town, Father Val Peter, brought a personal touch to working with residents at the home for troubled youth.

The Omaha priest died June 30 at age 85.

“Boys Town children could always count on Father Val to give them hope, encouragement and unconditional love,” said Deacon Tim McNeil, chancellor for the Omaha archdiocese. “He knew the children by name, and he knew their personal stories.

“Even though he managed a sizable organization, he always had time for the children. Their care was his number one priority,” Deacon McNeil said.

A funeral Mass was held July 7 at Boys Town’s Dowd Chapel with interment at St. Mary Magdalene Cemetery in Omaha.

An Omaha native, Father Peter attended Holy Cross School and Creighton Preparatory School, both in Omaha, before beginning studies at Conception Seminary in Conception, Missouri. He also attended North American College in Rome and was ordained in Rome in 1959.

Father Peter served in Omaha as assistant pastor of Holy Cross Parish from 1960 to 1964. He was chaplain to the School Sisters of St. Francis at the former Our Lady of the Angels Convent (now New Cassel Retirement Center) from 1966 to 1969, and to students at College of Saint Mary and Catholic students at the University of Nebraska at Omaha from 1969 to 1971.

He taught at College of Saint Mary and Creighton University, both in Omaha, and the former St. John Vianney Seminary (now Mount Michael Benedictine School) near Elkhorn.

He also served the archdiocese as defender of the marriage bond and tribunal judge.

Father Peter became director of youth care at Boys Town in 1984, and was named executive director in 1985, a post he held until 2005.

In that role, he oversaw a period of growth for the organization as it opened 12 satellite locations around the United States, constructed additional family homes on the Omaha campus, and opened the Boys Town National Hotline to help parents with the challenges of raising children. Father Peter also was pastor of Boys Town’s Immaculate Conception Parish.

Awards included the presidential award from the National Association of Homes and Services for Children, Nebraskalander of the Year from the Nebraska Foundation, and the Wallenberg Humanitarian Award.

Upon his retirement in 2017, Father Peter told the Catholic Voice: “The highlights of my priesthood have always been with the people in trouble, and I’ve been inspired by the people who are down and out and had the courage to follow the Lord.

“With his grace, I helped them. We’ve always helped each other,” he said.

Father Peter was preceded in death by parents, Anne Marie and Carl J. Peter, and brothers, Father Carl J. Peter, and Dr. James B. Peter. He is survived by sister and brother-in-law, Mary Ann (Peter) and Robert Hohman, nieces, nephews, other relatives, friends and brother priests.

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