John Albert Peterson
One often hears the phrase “he died of a broken heart.” As we contemplate the passing of our patriarch, John A. Peterson, we realize this is what happened. John passed away suddenly from a heart attack last Friday morning in his home, not quite a year since his much-adored wife Janet also passed. John was beloved by countless friends and family members.
He was born in Spokane, Washington on May 26, 1931 to Dorothy Dee Moore and Albert Clarence Peterson. John grew up in Spokane, Washington with his sister Cora Dee Peterson Hunt (Hal). He graduated from Lewis & Clark High School in 1950, earned a Bachelor of Arts in the study of Economics at Whitman College in 1954, and an MBA at Harvard University in 1956.
Later that year, John’s Aunt Topsy (Martha Babcock) asked a favor of him, she needed to find a date for Mary Janet Pease Fuller (Janet), a visiting family friend from Tacoma, Washington. John reluctantly said that he would take her on “one date.” They were married six months later, on April 27, 1957, at St. John’s Cathedral in Spokane. John and Janet loved to say that the twelfth time they saw each other was at their wedding. John and Janet then moved to Karlsruhe, Germany later that year for what they referred to as a “two-year honeymoon.” In reality, it was John serving his requisite service in the U.S. Army, which was deferred while at Harvard University. John was commissioned as a 1st Lieutenant in the Finance Corps where he was responsible for all U.S. currency and military payment certificates throughout Europe, the Middle East, and the United Kingdom. John worked in an underground vault in Karlsruhe, Germany with $114 million in cash (over a half-billion dollars in today’s money). Once there was ten cents unaccounted for… and great angst. Janet gave John a dime from her purse and the books balanced.
Their time in Germany was so special to them, for it was a wonderful time to be in Europe, they traveled extensively, and developed what would be a lifelong love for adventure. John was awarded the Army Commendation Ribbon for Meritorious Service, and an offer of advancement, but he had his sights set on Wall Street. John and Janet moved to New York City in 1959 where he joined Kidder Peabody & Company as a broker. A year later, they moved to the San Francisco Bay Area where John worked for Kidder Peabody & Company as a broker and served on the investment advisory committee as an analyst. John was elected a Fellow in the Financial Analysts Federation in 1974. Desiring to leave the commission-oriented brokerage business, John, Janet and the family moved in 1977 to John’s hometown, Spokane, where he hung his shingle for what would become Peterson Investment Management, Inc. Returning to Spokane was wonderful… friends, family, and lots of downhill skiing. John skied into his 70s. John was a great gardener and chef, and he enjoyed an extensive wine collection, and was blessed with a supertaster’s palate. Remarkably, he could blind-taste a wine and tell you the varietal, approximate vintage and where it was grown. John was skilled at managing money and thinking both critically and broadly. John read voraciously everything financial, historical, cultural and had a fondness for and acute knowledge of WWII history. He was active on the Whitman College Board of Overseers, and led a multi-million dollar fundraising campaign for what is now the Northwest Museum of Arts & Culture.
He and Janet loved supporting the arts community in Spokane, including the Spokane Symphony, the Spokane Art School, WAMPUM and many other local arts organizations and events. John and Janet loved travel and visited over 110 countries over the span of 61 years of marriage, many more than once. During their travels, they made many friends, and collected a wide array of artwork. Walking through their home was like touring a museum. John had an amazing capacity for details; he could recite years later their travel itineraries, names of people they met, restaurant names, even what they ate.
Janet passed away January 26, 2019. John retired from Peterson Investment Management, Inc. later that year, at age 88. John loved serving his clients, many who became close friends. When asked why he worked so long, he said that it never seemed like work. John is survived by his three children: Claire, Melissa and Robb (Gina), and six grandchildren: Danny, Lily, MacArthur, Erik, Alexander and Elizabeth. John will be forever missed by his children, grandchildren, cousins and friends. We will all fondly remember this man whose passion for knowledge, kindness to others, and love for art and culture illuminated our lives.
The family would like to invite his many friends to join us at Heritage Funeral Home, in Spokane, for a Celebration of John’s Life on Saturday January 11th at 2:00. Internment will be private. In lieu of flowers memorial gifts may be made to the Museum of Arts and Culture.