Staff members of Petersen Family Funeral Home are caring and experienced professionals who understand that each family is unique and has personal requests and traditions.

Debra “Debbie” Ann Johnson

Debra “Debbie” Ann Johnson went to be with her Lord on Sunday, May 24, 2020 at her home, surrounded by her family. Debbie was born on October 23, 1957 in Bakersfield, CA to Donald Wayne Walker and Alpha “Loretta” Moore Walker. She was the oldest of six children, having two younger brothers Greg and Donald Jr, and three younger sisters Terri, Mary, and Donna. Debbie’s family moved a lot when she was young, ending up in Wichita, Ks. When she was growing up, her and her brothers enjoyed roller skating, dancing, and fishing to name a few. Whatever Debbie did, Greg and Donald were with. Debbie was a very hard worker and was not shy to help wherever needed. She started waitressing when she was a teenager and was a natural. On July 29, 1978 Debbie married Merlyn Gene Johnson, in Newton, Ks at Church of the Brethren. April 23, 1979 Merlyn and Debbie welcomed their first son, Steven Lee and a year later, on April 13, 1980 their second son, David Gene, completed their family. When her sons were young, Debbie enjoyed staying at home and being a homemaker. She took much pride in raising her family and helping and spending time with her entire family. There was nothing like family to Debbie. Her kids, grandkids and great granddaughter were the lights of her life, her pride and joy. Her faith was strong and never doubted the presence of God, in her life. Debbie was a wonderful cook, co-owning her own restaurant at one time. And boy could she bake! Her flower gardens were some of the most beautiful and meaningful. She was a gifted gardener, having quite the green thumb. In 2014, Debbie was diagnosed and fought esophageal cancer, beating it. She was cancer free for over a year, but when cancer returned, her health quickly declined. Debbie was very stubborn and refused to give up but fought hard. Good Shepherd Hospice provided Debbie outstanding and holistic care and is much appreciated. Debbie is survived by husband, Merlyn of Walton, Ks; sons Steven and Courtney, and David, both of Walton; Granddaughters Sierra (Newton) and Riley (Walton); Grandsons Evan (Newton), Ethan (Valley Center, Ks) and Conner Johnson (Walton); Great Granddaughter Caroline Munger (Newton); In-laws Evan and Carolyn Johnson (Newton); Brother Greg and Penny Walker (Newton); Sisters Terri and John Boisen (Benton, Ks), Mary Walker (Wichita) and Donna Walker (Newton); and many loved nieces and nephews. She was preceded in death by her parents Donald and Loretta Walker, nephew Gregory Walker and infant niece Crystal Faith Walker. A Celebration of Life and meal will be held on Sunday, July 5th, 2020 at Harvey County East Park, Volunteer Hall at 5pm. A private family burial will occur at Walton at Walton Cemetery, Prior to the Celebration of Life.

Gregg Petersen


Gregg Petersen, the senior partner of Petersen's Funeral Home, joined the family owned firm in 1970. Over the years, Gregg has developed a vast experience in working with area churches and cemeteries. His many years of service have spanned many generations of families. Gregg has been a part of the many changes in funeral service and understands the needs of families for services from the traditional to the contemporary. He is proud of the flexibility in serving families that being family owned allows.

Fred Petersen

Human Resources/Officer

Fred is a officer/owner of the funeral home and a family member. He is a graduate of Newton High School and Kansas State University and worked in the banking industry for many years prior to joining the firm. Fred works with most human resource and public relations issues for the company. He is very customer oriented and finds great satisfaction working with and serving the public. He is a warm, caring and witty person who enjoys helping the Kansas licensed staff walk with families through a difficult time of transition.

Gavan G. Petersen


Gavan was born and raised in Newton, Kansas. He graduated from Newton High School in 1991. He received his BA degree from the Emporia State University and has a degree from the Kansas City school of Mortuary Arts. He is proud to be a third generation Petersen and has worked in his family’s business since middle school where he began by washing vehicles after school. Gavan is our monuments manager and heads our monument branch store Quality Monuments. Gavan is involved with many community projects and the development of Camp Hawk to provide free activities to young families and youth groups. He is also a supporter of "Girls Club" an organization to help young girls with their self-esteem, friendships and over all "well being". Gavan is an individual of traditional values. He strongly believes that the "viewing" at the visitation is vital for activating your support system and allows others to express their concern and love for you.

Charlie Robinson

Funeral Director

Charlie is a funeral director at Petersen's Funeral Home. He has worked for the company for 18 years. He started out washing cars and mowing the grass and eventually worked his way up. He also worked at a funeral home while attending Kansas State. In his spare time he enjoys tending to his back yard poultry and his dogs. He also enjoys presidential history and Kansas art and artists.

Brian Crawley

Brian is a hometown boy who graduated in 1993 from Newton High School.  From starting out with Doric Vaults, to graduating from the San Francisco College of Mortuary Science, Brian has been in the funeral industry for over 15 years. Before and after mortuary college, Brian worked for corporate funeral homes but eventually found that his place was with a family-owned funeral home serving the community. Brian specializes in embalming and reconstructive work. He is glad to be back in his hometown!

Cheryl Switzer

Funeral Director/Embamer

Cheryl Switzer joined the firm in April 2017. She comes to us by way of Fredonia, Kansas.  Cheryl was raised in North Central Kansas in the town of Washington.  After serving families for years as a paramedic Cheryl enrolled in Kansas City Kansas Community College mortuary science program.  In her free time she enjoys spending time with her husband Dan riding their harley trike and traveling.  She also enjoys gardening, flowers and tending her back yard water garden and fish pond.  Cheryl is excited to join the staff of Petersen's and continue caring for families in a caring family owned funeral home.

Cindy Simons

Office Administrator

Cindy joined our team in November of 2016 as our office administrator.  She works 3 days a week and as needed to keep up with our death certificate filing and insurance claims for our families.  Cindy can be found answering many questions families have as they complete their estates and final arrangements.  Cindy also works funeral services with us and helps care for our families as they walk thorough the funeral and memorial process.  She looks forward to serving our families and finds working at Petersen Funeral Home a rewarding experience.  Cindy is active in Business Professional Women and is currently serving as state president.  In her spare time she enjoys golfing with her friends and spending time with her husband Craig.

Our History

Petersen Funeral Home is a family owned and run funeral home. Petersen Funeral Home was founded January 1, 1961 by Tom and Ada Petersen. Tom Petersen’s goal was to create and maintain the finest funeral services in the Newton area.

In 1970, Gregg Petersen, the son of Tom and Ada, joined the funeral home. Today, Tom Petersen is retired, and his sons, Gregg and Fred, oversee the everyday details of the funeral home. Today the staff is made up of a team of 4 Funeral Directors, Gavan Petersen, Charlie Robinson, Cheryl Switzer & Brian Crawley.  Gavan, Brian and Cheryl are also the Embalmers for the funeral home.

For nearly fifty years the Petersen family and their employees have served families with the respect and dignity that their loved ones deserve. The Petersen’s and their professional staff know and understand the special needs of this area and can help and guide out of town families through this time.

Petersen’s has continued to be the most trusted name in funeral service in Newton. We are a full service facility that offers a large chapel for traditional and memorial services. Although most families choose some form of a traditional service, Petersen Funeral Home provides varied options for those families who prefer cremation. Petersen Funeral Home was the first funeral home in the Newton area to have an individual cremation arrangements room to serve our customer’s cremation needs.

We are proud to say that families in this area know and trust Petersen Funeral Home. We offer fair and reasonable prices and provide a high quality of service that the community has come to know and expect.