January 07, 2022

Robert G Peterson

Robert Gustave Peterson (aka “Bob” “Rob” “Trebor” “Gus” “Pete” “The Big Swede”)

Born July 22, 1931 in Cleveland, OH to parents Gustavus Adolphus Peterson and Marie Shoemaker Peterson, Robert passed peacefully in his home on January 7, 2022 after an adventuresome 90 years.

Robert was the youngest of three children; he worshipped his older brothers Charles and Donald.  After living a few years in Youngstown OH, his family moved to Chagrin Falls, OH to a beautiful home affectionally known as “Sky Farm”.  Robert had the privilege to attend Western Reserve Academy, in Hudson, OH (Class of ’49).  At WRA, Robert was the captain of the Football and Baseball teams, member of the student council and it was here where he developed some of his deepest lifelong friendships.

Robert attended Amherst College in Massachusetts attaining a BA, Economics (Class of ’53).  While at Amherst, Robert played baseball and football, participated in band and glee club and proud member of the Delta Upsilon fraternity.  In the summers, Robert worked on the Lake freighters pulling Iron Ore on the Great Lakes and recalled fondly the steaming hot days and hard work alongside some of the most stunning landscapes in the country.

After graduation in 1953, Robert was drafted into the US Army.  He completed basic training at Fort Dix, spent 9 months working at Fort Devens, and then shipped out to LaRochelle, France until 1955.   This tour gave Robert the opportunity to see Europe for the first time and ignited a lifelong desire for travel.

Robert went on to obtain an MBA at the University of Michigan (Class of ’57).  It was there he met and married Wanda Michaels, his wife of 52 years.  After completing his degree, Robert started his career with the West Virginia Pulp and Paper Company in Troy, NY.  In 1962, Robert moved into a Planning Analyst role with Glens Falls Insurance which would later become Continental Insurance.  Robert moved up the ranks as a senior executive in Continental’s corporate office in NJ until his retirement in 1992.

Robert and Wanda had three children and initially settled in Saratoga Springs, NY.  Robert was a devoted husband and father, Little League and Softball coach and sideline cheerleader for his kids.  One of Robert’s happiest accomplishments was his role in helping to develop a Softball league franchise in Saratoga in 1974 when there were no opportunities for his daughter Kirsten to participate in organized sport. Robert coached, managed the umpires, and wrote prolific overviews of the girls’ softball games in the local newspaper.

Robert cherished family weekends in upstate NY swimming and playing at nearby Lake George, family picnics at Saratoga State Park, the summer pilgrimage of the NY City Ballet, and of course the racetrack.   Although he travelled around the country, Europe, and Australia throughout his years, Robert’s heart would always want to return to Chagrin Falls, OH and Saratoga Springs, NY.

In 1978, Robert and family moved to Morris Plains, NJ, and later to Princeton in 1988, before landing in Mount Arlington NJ in 2009.

As called out in his Western Reserve Academy yearbook, “Everyone just liked Robert.”  His quick sense of humor and love of people drew others to him like flies to honey, and he was known to keep audiences for hours with his storytelling and banter.   He famously took the time to speak to every single artist in every arts fair he attended and was the master of ceremonies for many a family or school reunion over the years.  Even after losing his eyesight in 2020, Robert maintained a boundless positive spirit and continued to “hold court” with anyone within earshot.

Travel, Art, Literature, writing poems and puns, and music were some of Robert’s greatest passions.  Robert was part of the church choir, played the clarinet, and was a gifted whistler.  Robert’s musical tastes ran from Handel’s Messiah to Frank Sinatra to Broadway musicals, with Carousel, The King and I, and Showboat topping the list.

Robert had an unparalleled generosity of spirit.  He was quick to give to several worthy causes and took great joy in remembering birthdays and sending Christmas gifts to friends and family far and wide.  His attention to detail in gift giving was legendary, especially his long, personalized clever handwritten gift tags.

After Wanda’s death in 2011, Robert turned his attention to travel and became a superfan for Amherst athletics, particularly the women’s basketball team.  Between November and March, if Robert wasn’t visiting family or friends, he could be found courtside cheering on the Mammoths alongside other elite alumni.

Robert is survived by his children, Kirsten (sp Dan Leslie) Erik (sp Lenette) and Zoe (sp Todd Ward) and five grandchildren (Sheila Peterson, Rebecca Peterson, Mika Leslie, Tucker Ward and Cooper Ward).

Robert’s Celebration of Life service will occur in June 2022, date and location to be determined.  In the meantime, please raise a cup of hot black coffee in Robert’s honor; his family welcomes your memories and pictures (please send c/o Zoe Ward at [email protected] or 2 Horton Drive, Chester, NJj 07930).   In lieu of flowers, the family suggests a donation to Vision Loss Alliance of NJ, or The Nature Conservancy.

Arrangements are by the Davis & Hepplewhite Funeral Home,96 Main Street, Succasunna, NJ 973-584-7264 (davishepplewhitefh.com)


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