Monday, June 9, 2014

Peter's Birthday

Peter’s birthday party, age 5

Dear George,
Today is my brother Peter's birthday. He would have been 69.  Peter was born in the final months of World War II.  Our dad was in the Navy, stationed in the Pacific.  I don’t know if he was at home on leave for Peter’s birth or not, but, in any case, it was a turbulent time.  Below are some photos of Peter and our family over the years. The first half were taken by our dad, then a bunch by Peter and a few by me.  They bring back good memories.  

Every summer Vic did an annual family portrait at our house on the Menominee River.  I think this is 1951.  Peter (age 6) is at the left, then Doris, myself (14), Vic, Vicki (4), and Steven (10).   Also our beloved Irish Setter, Mike.

Peter and Vicki were the youngest of the four of us, and they were the closest in age.  They always had a very strong connection.  They look like little angels here, but practically every day they would go out to the cabin and have an all-out fight which they later attributed to sibling rivalry.  This might sound brutal and unfair, but Vicki was a tough customer and could take care of herself.  

We kids engaged in lots of competition with one another -- monopoly, canasta, basketball, etc.  Here are Steve and Peter playing caroms in the living room. 

This is our grandfather, V.A. Sr., with Vicki and Peter.  Peter was the closest of all of us to our grandfather, and the two of them did a lot of carpentry and fix-it projects together at the workbench in our garage at river house.  

Peter was the only football player in our family.  Here he is with his coach on the Washington Grade School team, city champs. 

This is probably Peter’s new bike (which would have occasioned the picture).  Riverside Boulevard at the time was a two-lane gravel road, and the one-mile trip over loose stones to the city limits was a struggle.  Later the county paved Riverside Boulevard with blacktop.  We all were overjoyed, even if it meant no more holidays from school because of the road turning to mud in the spring.    

This photo was taken at Katja’s and my wedding in Yellow Springs in August 1960.  Elvis and other rockers had been on the scene for four or five years, and you can see their influence upon 13-year-old Peter's avante garde hair styling.

Peter took up weightlifting as a teenager and became more muscular than the rest of us.

Here’s Peter on his motorcycle during his high school years.  Both of my brothers were more adventuresome than I was, and they definitely had more fun.   

I'd guess this photo was taken when Peter was a college student. By then he had progressed to a better-looking hair style.  After graduating from Menominee High, Peter began as a pre-pharmacy major at Ferris Institute in Big Rapids.  Then, after stops at Marquette, Northern Michigan, and Bay du Noc, he graduated with a fine arts degree from Michigan State University in 1971. 

Peter and Faith got married on Aug. 7, 1968, in the living room of our parents' Birch Creek farm.  Here they are three years later, visiting Katja and myself in Cincinnati.  Peter's holding our two-year-old son J.       

Peter and Faith's son Chris was born in California in 1978, and Jessica was born in Minnesota in 1982.

In addition to his many artworks over the years, Peter was also an excellent photographer.  He and I had many good times shooting photos together in Menominee at family reunions.  

Peter was the most family-oriented of the four of us, and he loved get-togethers with his brothers and sister.  Here are Peter, Steve, and Vicki. 

Peter was also the most loving and generous with members of the younger generation in our family.  Here he is on a restaurant outing with his niece Abra and his daughter Jessica. 

From the late 1960's on, our parents, Vic and Doris, arranged family reunions at their Birch Creek farm every August.  This happy group includes Peter (at the left), myself, Vicki, and George.  

Vicki volunteered to give massages to her brothers, but Peter was the only one courageous enough to take her up on it.  He described Vicki's massages as torture, but then he would come back for more.      

Following a highly successful career in the financial world which took him to many places in North America (e.g., Kansas City, Minneapolis, Toronto, New York City), Peter settled in Princeton, NJ, as Senior Vice President and Branch Manager of Smith Barney in nearby New Brunswick.  After being together for a number of years, he and Gayle got married on June 26, 2005.  Gayle brought great joy to Peter's life. 

Peter and Gayle made many weekend excursions to New York City and enjoyed the city's many resources and attractions.  Here they are on a holiday outing with George and Vicki.

I don't think one ever fully recovers from family losses, and we’ve suffered way too many.  Peter passed away while on vacation at East Hampton, Long Island, on July 21, 2006.  He’s still very much on our minds.  For today, Happy Birthday to our brother (and dad and husband and uncle).     

G-mail Comments
-Donna D (6-10): very moving, david
-Linda C (6-10): Beautifully done, I think peter must have been a really fun brother, you were lucky.
-Matthew S (6-9): Hi Dave,   It's Matt here.  If Peter graduated from MSU with a fine arts degree in 1971 I probably knew him.  I was a T.A. in Art History from 1970-1972.  The department was not especially large, we were all in one building(Kresge Art Center), and the people getting a B.F.A. and M.F.A. each year were maybe 15-20, at most. I have no recollection of him, which doesn't surprise me, but surely we were at least passingly acquainted to say "hi" to one another.  Best regards,  Matthew
-Jennifer M (6-9): A very nice post about your brother.

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