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Walter George "Pete" Peterson
November 23, 1941 - July 24, 2017


Two More Early Memories...
  1. I attended kindergarten at Doyle Park Elementary School in Santa Rosa.  My teacher was Mrs. Abraham.  Our house was at 2020 Midway Drive and I can still remember our phone number (544-3382).  As crazy as it sounds in the context of society today, it was not unusual for kids that age in the neighborhood to walk to and from school and I had a group of friends that I would do that with.  Our parents had very carefully instructed all of us on the exact route we were to take and we were not allowed to deviate from it.  Thinking back now, I suspect that this was all coordinated and that we were being monitored on our route to and from school.  One morning on the way to school with my friends, we were waiting to cross Sonoma Avenue.  There on the other side near the school we could see a big construction site.  There was heavy equipment digging a huge hole in Sonoma Avenue.  On that particular morning, there were big trucks, a backhoe, and men in hardhats and they were digging a big hole right in the street.  There were men down in the hole, and diesel engines were roaring, and the big yellow arm and rusted bucket of the backhoe was scooping dirt.  One man was standing at the edge of the hole gesturing, shouting instructions, and coordinating the backhoe and the trucks.  Imagine my surprise when I saw that man was my Dad!!!  I couldn't believe it and I was so elated when he scooped me up and took me into the construction site to look down into the hole, explaining what they were doing.  While that couldn't have lasted for more than a minute or two, it felt like I was with him for a long time.  I remember the smell of the open earthen hole, the smell of his aftershave, and the way it felt to be in his arms amid all the chaos and with all of my friends watching.  After setting me back down with my friends, he went back to work and we went on to school.  I felt so proud of my Dad and walked perhaps a little taller because he was in charge of that construction site outside of my school on that day.  It might seem a trivial thing now, but for a little boy walking with his friends on his way to kindergarten, little boys who thought backhoes and trucks and construction equipment were really cool, who fantasized about constructions sites in their backyard sand boxes with their Tonka toys, it meant the world.
  2. Later, when we moved to Indiana, my Dad sent me a big stuffed doll for my birthday.  I loved that doll.  Once, when I was sick, I barfed on it.  Even though I was sick, I was really upset that I had sullied my beloved doll that I had gotten from my Dad.  I was mortified and had to make it right as quickly as possible.  As gross as it was for a sick little kid to do, I washed and cleaned that doll and got it back to its original condition.  I kept that doll and loved it for many, many years, maybe even after I had outgrown dolls, truth be told, just because I had gotten it from my Dad.

I love you champ and I miss you every day.

Started by Donn Peterson on August 21, 2017

Dad's Sense of Humor

Dad was always up for a good laugh.  He never took himself too seriously and was always quick to smile.  He had this terrible joke he used to tell... each time we drove past a cemetary, Dad would slap your leg, or otherwise get your attention by pointing at it.  Very seriously he would ask, "Do you see that?"  When you acknowledged seeing it, his face would light up and he'd triumphantly quip, "People are just dying to get in there!"  And he did this...

every...

single...

time!

Each time, he said it as if it was the very first time; he never lost his enthusiasm and his delivery was never diminished in the slightest way.  This went on for years.  Even if we drove past the exact same cemetary several times in the same day, he'd ask the question.  Janet tried to resist him by refusing to answer.  He wouldn't have it and would harangue her until she finally played along.  The constance and consistency of that over the years transitioned from thinking it was funny as a kid, to eye rolling and irritation as a teen, to warmth and familiarity as an adult... it was something that became very endearing about him.  I miss Dad's wonderful sense of humor and the carefree and uncomplicated way he lived his life.

Started by Donn Peterson on August 14, 2017

Dad is Back Home

I drove down to Sonoma County today to pick up Dad's remains.  It was a long day… I drove down and back, but I did what I set out to do and feel good about that.  I found out yesterday and didn't want to have him wait so much as a moment to be back home with family.  While that may seem silly, it was important to me.  So I set out this morning and the drive never fails to inspire me… it’s always beautiful and each season brings some sort of change.  This trip was no different with beautiful weather and scenery.  Picking up Dad's remains felt like an honor and, while solemn, wasn't all that emotional.

The emotional part of the day came when I stopped to see Mom and she asked me to clean out two of my Dad’s dresser drawers.  It was very emotional going through his drawers and seeing in them some of the same things I saw when I was perhaps 3 years old and used to rummage through his bottom dresser drawer as a curious boy.  A lot of the same things were still in there and it swept me back to another time... one where he was still a giant to me as a little kid and would pick me up like a toy and hold me.  I remember how it felt to be picked up and held by him and I can't help but make an association with my beautiful little girls, Ava & Noa.  One of the things I found was a funeral notice from when Grandpa passed.  While just a piece of paper, it was like a sacred artifact to me.  I carefully lifted it out of the drawer and opened it.  I saw that Grandpa had passed in 1965, the year after I was born.  He never got to meet me because he got sick and quickly passed away before that could happen.  That was a regret my Dad always had... that his Dad, my Grandfather, never had the chance to meet me.  Then it struck me that Dad died a year after Noa & Ava were born and never had a chance to meet them.  I was poleaxed.  All these powerful emotions were swirling around inside of me as I thought of all this... the way it felt to be held by my Daddy as a little boy when he caught me going through his bottom dresser drawer, how sad he was that his own father died too soon and never got to meet me, and how that same situation played out one generation later.  I know that I cannot change what is and regrets are pointless, and I will never take for granted the simple joy of picking up my daughters, holding them close, and spending those precious, fleeting moments together.

On the way home, there was a massive thunderstorm over east central Mendocino.  It was awe inspiring and pretty scary looking.  I was glad to be driving north on Redwood Highway rather than trying to fly through it.

Paul and I talked on the way home about a fitting memorial for our Dad, what he would have wanted, and what we may want to do with his remains.  I’m honored to have them with me and we'll take a little time to heal and process as we come up with something in time.  He lived his whole life in Sonoma, so we talked about maybe scattering his ashes on his birthday this year or next from Bodega Head.  He loved driving out there and it’s something we did a lot as kids and then later as adults.  We’ll see… time will determine.

I love you Dad and I miss you every day.  I'm glad you're at peace and, while I know your spirit has departed, I was proud to pick up what remained here on earth and bring it home with me.

Started by Donn Peterson on August 10, 2017

Random Thoughts...

As solemn a moment as it was when Dad passed, I was so grateful to be there with Janet, Lee and Paul and for all of us to be at his side as he transitioned to whatever is next.  I felt very fortunate too to have been able to spend these past couple of years closer to him, seeing him more often.  He was comfortable and peaceful and we spent his last hours playing his favorite songs, talking to him, and sharing with one another fond memories and funny stories.  We rubbed his hands and feet, stroked his forehead, and I'd like to think he knew his kids were right there with him...  that having all of us there helped him to know that he had done his job well and could go in peace.  He could have been a lot of things and God knows I've seen that in my professional career; the tragedy of what some fathers represent in the lives of their children and families.  We were absolutely blessed with a loving, authentic, demonstrative man who modeled hard work, kindness, and compassion for his children.  Dad, I miss you every day.  I've been in a state of shock since you left, not knowing how to feel, but somehow knowing too that the best memorial I can provide to you is to live a full life and to be a good daddy to my little girls.  I'm so sorry you never got to meet your granddaughters, but know you would have loved them and spoiled them and enjoyed watching them as they learned and played and grew.  Anything good I am is a credit to you and I am committed to paying it forward with my sweet little angels, Noa & Ava.  Thank you Dad.

Started by Donn Peterson on August 07, 2017

Early Memories...

Dad had an old fashioned credenza-style stereo.  I remember when he got it back in the late 60's.  It was like a peice of furniture with sliding wooden lids in the top.  There was an AM/FM stereo on one side and a turntable on the other.  We were still living on Midway Drive at the time and Paul was just a baby.  In the mornings, Dad used to listen to a Bay Area radio station, I think KFOG, and I remember the news, traffic and weather reports.  He would listen as he got ready for work and I remember the little red light glowing in the face of the cabinet to let you know it was on.  I thought it was cool that you could turn it on and then close the lid and there were voices coming out of the furniture.

Sometimes on the weekends, Dad liked to listen to his vinyl LP records.  I remember how careful he was, taking them out of their covers and then the inner paper sleeves, holding the record by its edges with his palms so as not to scratch it, and very carefully placing it on the turntable.  While I'm sure he had other artists, the one he seemed to listen to most, and the one I remember, was Johnny Cash.  He had a live album, At Folsom Prison.  He loved that album and would play it so loud the neighbors would call to complain.  He also liked Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass, Charlie Rich, Charlie Pride and a few others, but those are the ones I remember.  I remember laughing and having such fun because what we were doing was a little bit naughty and it was something my Dad included me in.

Some other fond memories from that time...

The house on Midway Drive had L-shaped gas heaters that started with a grate on the floor and then wrapped up onto the wall.  My memory is that the horizontal (floor) portion of the register extened maybe 8-10 inches out onto the floor from the base of the wall and that the vertical (wall) portion extended maybe 2-3 feet up from the floor.  There was one in the hallway right outside of the bathroom.  They would get very hot and, as long as you had shoes on, you could stand on it and warm up on a cold morning.  I rember they way they smelled and ticked when they came on and the glorious warmth that would come from them as they warmed the cold house.  I remember taking a bath with Paul one time.  I may have been 3 or 4, which means Paul would only have been perhaps 2 or a little older.  He was taken out and dried off first.  It was a cold and Paul must've gotten a little too close to the register grate... I remember him howling and and that he had "stripes" burned on his butt from it.

I remember our back yard.  We had plum trees, one red and one white.  The red plum tree was easy to climb and near the fence.  Paul and I had many adventures in that tree, pretending the branches were the masts of a ship, or that the fence was the wall to our fort.  We were so little that we could actually walk along the perimeter of the back yard on the top rail of that fence!  Dad used to take brown paper grocery bags from the Lucky's grocery store in Mongomery Village where we went grocery shopping, fold the tops down so they would stay open, place them in our Radio Flier wagon, and then have Paul and I pick up plums.  He showed us how to tell which ones were ripe and which ones were still not ready.  He would get beneath the tree and shake it and the plums would fall by the dozens like rain.  After he did that, Paul and I would enthusiastically run around beneath him and pick up plums as he had shown us.  Once we had filled the bags, we would take the plums to a neighbor, who would use them to make jelly and jam.  I remember thinking how big and strong my Dad was that he could shake a tree like that and it made me very proud of him.

Started by Donn Peterson on August 06, 2017

Walter G. Peterson Jr.

Dad, we miss you and know you are at peace surrounded by those you have loved who went before you.  And we know too that Otis and Cooper were waiting, thumping their tails, excited to see you again!

Started by Donn Peterson on July 29, 2017

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