James David PetersonJune 8, 1932 ~ December 6, 2016 (age 84)
James David Peterson, passed away Tuesday, December 6, 2016, after a brief illness. He was 84 years old. Surrounded by family and friends, Jim was vigorous and optimistic until the end.
Jim was born on June 8, 1932 in Chicago, Illinois, the eldest son of Walter and Evelyn Peterson. After growing up in the Chicago suburbs, he was graduated from high school in 1950. In 1952, Jim enlisted in the Army and served for sixteen months in Korea, before being honorably discharged in late 1954.
In 1955, he headed west, where he had heard the fishing and hunting were outstanding. He quickly found work as a truck driver and heavy equipment operator. He also was introduced to insurance sales, for which, it soon became clear, he was a natural. His affiliation with one company - Banker’s Life & Casualty Company – would last 59 years and culminated with his election to the company’s Hall of Fame in 2012.
In early 1956, a blind date introduced Jim to Beverly Wolfgang of Idaho Falls, Idaho. Six months later, they were married. They had their first child, a son, in 1957, a daughter in 1959, and another son, in 1960. After earning his business degree from Idaho State University in 1961, Jim developed his budding sales and management career, moving throughout the west and having three more kids along the way.
In 1968, the family loaded up the station wagon for what would be its final move, to Portland. For the next 48 years, Jim and Bev watched the world from their perch in the west hills. Jim savored all that life offered: family, friends, food, fun, and fast car racing, as a fan – and a driver.
No goal was too high when he set his mind to it. For example, around 1975, Jim began riding his bicycle with the Portland Wheelmen. He decided he enjoyed it. Six months later, he was Master Class state champion and finished among the top half of riders in the nationals.
He was a raconteur, whether recounting his family history or professional experiences along the way. He enjoyed telling a joke, infusing it in his own inimitable style and always delivering the punch line with gusto – even if it couldn’t save the joke.
For Jim, the glass was always half-full. He looked for the best in people, downplaying flaws and focusing on the features which would bring out one’s best. He was serious when it was necessary and generous with his time and resources. He smiled and laughed for as long as he could – proud to the end of his accomplishments and of a life well-lived.
Jim is survived by his sister Judy Flynn, of Sarasota, Florida; his wife of 60 years, Beverly; his son, David (Diane) and daughter, Betsy (Danny), of Oregon City; his son, Bill (Sue), of San Anselmo, California; his son, Chris (Debra) of Portland; his daughter, Patty (Rich) of Huntington, New York; and his son, Tony (Krista), of Portland; as well as ten grandchildren. A funeral mass will be held at St. Thomas More Church on Thursday, February 23rd, at 11:30 AM. In lieu of flowers, please direct donations to the Pabst Brewing Company. Or, if you prefer, consider the Salvation Army or the Maryknoll Society.