Life Story for
Thomas Milton Peterson was born in Twin Falls, Idaho, December 2, 1942, the middle son of eight children born to Cleo and Sybile Peterson. He died better known as “Big G” or “Papi”, at his home in Gannett, Idaho, on August 4, 2017.
Tom is survived by his wife of 56 years, Judith A. McKenzie, his four children, 10 grandchildren and 4 great grandchildren. His four children are Tracy Peterson (Vee Van Hook) of Carey, Pam Tidwell (Curtis Tidwell) of Bellevue, Travis Peterson, of Gannett, and Tyler Peterson (Jennifer Liebrum) of Bellevue.
Known best as Tommy while growing up in Carey, he graduated Carey High School where he lettered in track and served as captain of the football team. He farmed daily with his father, milked cows, fed the cattle and sheep and participated in 4-H. Tommy picked up the guitar in high school, which became a lifelong passion. The challenging circumstances of juggling chores, sports and school brought the siblings close. He is survived by his siblings Buzz Peterson (Carol) Judy Justesen (Larry) Ronnie Peterson (Anita) Skip Peterson (Trudy), Marty Peterson (Gail) and Greg Peterson, and was preceded in death by sister Patricia Sparks (Larry) and his parents.
At 15, Tommy began his journey to adulthood. He met Judy at a Bellevue dance when his uncle introduced him to his children’s babysitter. They danced to “I Walk the Line” and dated for the next four years. They married Dec. 23, 1960, and he joined the U.S. Army. Stationed in Germany for three years, he served in the Cavalry Unit as Specialist Four E4. Judy and the couple’s first son, Tracy, joined him the last year of his tour of duty. Judy returned to Hailey to give birth to their daughter, Pam, while Tom finished up his assignment at Fort Lewis in Washington.
The small family moved to RIchfield, Idaho, where Tom worked at the local cheese factory before moving to Hailey, Idaho, and started working for Sun Valley Company as a lift operator, painter, and grounds crewman. He had two more sons, Travis and Tyler. He joined Sun Valley Custom Painting and then went out on his own as T&J Painting. He continued farming throughout his life, hauling hay and wood, from a parcel on Baseline Road (which Judy playfully called Old McDonald’s Farm for the various critters) and then to the old Gannett Post Office, which they remodeled, and where they lived for the last 35 + years. Many will remember him and Judy as bus drivers for the Blaine County School District too.
Tom started playing bass guitar with his brother-in-law Marvin McKenzie, Don Litzinger and Jim Burk, forming a band called “The Country Gentlemen.” They played at the Silver Dollar in Bellevue and other local haunts throughout the valley for many years. He gave up the bar scene when he became a Christian, but continued to play upon invitation at weddings, funerals and special occasions, among them his beloved daughter Pam’s wedding, his twin granddaughters’ first birthday party (where Gracers took her first steps dancing for her grandpa) and at the Three Island Crossing re-enactment in 2003.
His hobbies included bowling (many trophies earned), horses, playing horseshoes, and especially, salmon fishing. He enjoyed the outdoors, hunting and camping, and any chance to beat grandchildren, Teea, Patrick, Lacey, Bryan, Sydney, Nic, Chelsea, Mackenzie, Gracie and Devon at cards. Great grandchildren Lexie, Josh, Dez and Aryia, were his latest targets.
He was well-loved and will be deeply missed by many, including longtime friends, Dale and Jean Ewerson.
Services will be held today Wednesday, Aug. 9, 2017, at 11 a.m. at Life Church in Hailey. Funeral arrangements were made by Wood River Chapel. Graveside services with military honors salute to follow at Hailey Cemetery. Reception back at the Life Church hosted by the Life Church and Tom’s home church, Wood River Assembly of God.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks for a donation to Wounded Warriors or Make-A-Wish Idaho.