DELLWOOD, Minn. — Arlie Peltier lived generously, loved fiercely and dressed fashionably.
In fact, Arlie’s family first realized something may be wrong when her fashion sense started to fade.
“She put on a summer outfit in the middle of winter. Put something on inside out,” her husband, Ron Peltier, recalled about his wife of nearly 52 years.
Mismatched outfits. Misplaced keys. Forgotten names. All of it started adding up for the Peltier family. Years before they received the official diagnosis, they knew they’d started the Alzheimer’s journey.
“Unfortunately, you know where it’s going. And every day is the last best day that you have until you don’t have any. It just keeps taking from you,” Ron Peltier shared with KARE 11’s Karla Hult Friday afternoon.
A family’s roots run deep
However, decades before that journey started, the Peltier family began with a connection between two teenagers.
“I met her at 15,” recalled Ron, before adding that she was, “a very smart, beautiful, elegant woman.”
The Peltiers married on Feb. 15, 1970, a day after Valentine’s Day because of Ron’s hockey game (he played for both Johnson High School and the University of Minnesota). The high school sweethearts eventually worked together in real estate while raising a son and daughter. Arlie would play the piano and guitar, bake treats for other people and cook Ron’s favorite dinners. Over the years, they’d add seven grandchildren to the mix, while also investing in land in Dellwood – property they decided could help them give back to their community.
“We wanted to build something that would be a place for people to come and have a good time,” Ron said, adding that the dream of building 7 Vines Vineyard and Winery would also reflect Arlie’s love of entertaining.
“We started construction on the winery in 2015, about the time she was really officially diagnosed,” Ron said.
Back to the journey
That brings us back to those mismatched outfits, misplaced keys and forgotten names. The family believes Arlie started showing signs of Alzheimer’s disease in 2010, when she was only 60 years old.
“Not only are you losing your mom, wife, but every step of the way you’re grieving something. Another loss, another piece of her that seems to be missing, until you’re just reaching for anything you can find that is still her,” said Janee Katz, Ron and Arlie’s daughter.
Janee would talk to her children about their grandmother, “Trying to remind them every day of that person that she used to be. She definitely was the most giving and the most loving. Her beauty definitely shone on the outside, but it radiated even brighter on the inside.”
Ron recalled how the family committed to around-the-clock care for his bride, who he also showered with affirmation.
“She was told many times a day by the people who love her that she was loved,” he said.
Arlie passed away in October 2021 at the age of 71.
“She was the love of my life and still is, in her life and in her death,” Ron said.
Paying it fashion forward
On Friday night, the Peltiers joined hundreds of others for a Fashion for Alzheimer’s charity event, featuring a fashion show, wine, and fundraising for the Alzheimer’s Research Center at the Mayo Clinic.
“The love for fashion that my mom had and how elegant and graceful she was -- and what a statement she made when she walked into a room -- it just seemed like the perfect fit,” Janee said.
The family will continue their “fight for that first survivor,” Janee said, with a wine created in 2020 especially for Arlie: Reminisce. A portion of every bottle – or glass – of Reminisce sold will also support research at the Mayo Clinic.
“It’s our small way of making a difference,” Janee said.
As for Ron, he misses his bride who selflessly supported others, loved to entertain and yes, also loved fashion. But he hopes Arlie finds comfort in her own legacy.
“Knowing Arlie, she’s up there, smiling. And I know this is what she would like. This is our way of celebrating her, celebrating life and trying to find a venue to raise funds to help find a cure so others don’t have to go through this,” Ron said.
To learn more about the 7 Vines Vineyard and Winery – including how you can purchase a bottle of Reminisce, click or tap here.
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