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William John Peterson, 83

Posted: Tuesday, May 14th, 2013

William John Peterson was born Feb. 5, 1930 to William M. and Helena (Dornik) Peterson in the small copper mining town of Miami, Ariz.

He spent his childhood there during the Depression and World War II with his brother, Maurice and sister, Helen. John, as he was called, attended schools in Miami, and graduated from Miami High School in 1948.

He excelled in academics, making the Honor Society. In sports he was a four-year letterman playing basketball, football and baseball for the Vandals. After graduating, he attended the University of Arizona in Tucson, where he continued playing varsity basketball for the Wildcats.

To help pay for his tuition he worked at various jobs, including catching rattlesnakes for their venom to be converted into much needed serum. He graduated from the University in 1952 with a degree in physics.

John took a job with Hughes Aircraft after school, and then moved to Monterey, Calif. where he started working with a small engineering firm. In 1958, John joined Lockheed Missiles and Space Company as they opened a new facility in Sunnyvale, Calif. He held a variety of engineering and leadership positions at Lockheed, spending time in Advanced Systems and Missile Systems, as well as years at the Palo Alto research facility.

John spent 34 years at Lockheed, making many friends along the way. Several of them formed the Thursday Night Golf league at Deep Cliff, and also enjoyed many a lunch on Fridays at the Honduras Restaurant in downtown Sunnyvale for years until it closed. The themed Birthday bashes that he shared with his best friend, Dorance Miller, were not to be missed, nor were the “Big Game Dinners” which grew into a much larger event than the backyard could hold. John retired from Lockheed in 1993.

John participated in many sports and adult leagues throughout his life and enjoyed watching the Sharks, Giants, and his Arizona Wildcats on TV. An avid hunter and sportsman, John enjoyed both hunting and fishing; hunting ducks and deer for many years in California and around the world. In 1985, he realized a dream by taking what was to be his “one great African safari.”

Six trips to Africa later, he was able to spend time with his grandsons on their first African trip. John and his wife, Pat, raised and loved many dogs during their lives; starting with Collies and later Viszala’s, Springer Spaniels, and Gordon Setters. They loved and spoiled them all.

He was tragically predeceased by his first wife, Dorothy Gross, in 1957 and by his second wife, Patricia, in 1995. He is survived by his sister, Helen (Peterson) Webb and husband, Robert of Billings, Mont.; and his sons, Kenneth (Pat) and Scott (Annette) and his grandsons, Chris and Kendall. Donations in his memory can be made to your favorite Humane Society or animal charity; or to Ducks Unlimited.

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