Robert Anton Peterson was born on January 28, 1941, in Brooklyn, New York. He was the son of John Anton Peterson of Sweden and Margaret Blackwell Peterson of Liverpool, England. Bob always lamented that had his mother not emigrated to America, he would have been one of the Beatles. Bob grew up the youngest of four children and closest to his sister Joan who taught him important life lessons like not eating marbles. He attended Erasmus Hall High School where he met his lifelong love, Karen Olsen. She asked him to the Sadie Hawkins dance at the Luther League. Once she learned he was a smooth dancer, that was that. Bob was co-captain of the Erasmus Dutchmen where he helped lead the team to the 1957 city championship. Outside activities for the blonde, crew-cut tackle included the Boys’ Glee Club, Boy Scouts, and the bowling league at Freddie Fitzsimmons Alleys. A Brooklyn-Queens All-Star player, Bob headed off to the University of South Carolina to play football with the Gamecocks and Karen went to Wagner College. They maintained their long-distance romance (except for the brief times when Bob’s picture would be removed from the shelf and placed in a drawer, according to sources).
Married in 1962, Bob and Karen moved to Sumter, South Carolina where Karen taught school and Bob finished his accounting degree. After graduation, Bob worked for the U.S. General Accounting Office for 33 years, retiring as the Dallas Regional Manager. Throughout their 60 years of marriage, Bob and Karen loved to entertain. They threw many parties that included music and singing with Bob on the guitar and friends on other instruments including the home-made gut bucket. Bob and Karen raised two children, John and Laura. Bob coached little league, soccer, ran a Webelos den, attended untold recitals, concerts, musicals, football games and at least one Christmas Eve pageant that involved many young children, real straw, and lit candles; just to make sure the parents were paying attention.
In his 50’s, Bob discovered that there was more to life than work and he and Karen embarked on a twenty-five-year adventure of seeing the world. Their favorite mode of travel was cruising where they would astound international audiences with their trivia prowess, claiming valuable prizes like zipper pulls. They came home with many stories of adventure – like the time they belatedly realized that attending an underwater shark feeding wearing wetsuits made them look a lot like seals. Some of Bob’s favorite trips were the transatlantic cruises, watching the sea from his deck chair – probably in his DNA coming from a family of sailors.
Bob and Karen retired to Rock Hill, South Carolina where Bob played one of his most important roles – Pop-Pop. With 13 grandchildren, and 5 great grandchildren, he spent countless hours teaching skills like woodworking, driving, guitar and performing magic tricks. To this day, no one knows where that quarter goes when it isn’t under the handkerchief. He loved working the crossword puzzle, watching football and cooking breakfast while robustly singing trendy songs like the Welsh national anthem. No one told a “Dad joke” better than Bob and he always had a quip up his sleeve, just to keep you on your toes. He leaves immense wealth behind for his children and grandchildren – a work ethic, a moral code, and the ability to find humor in any situation.
During retirement, Bob and Karen took their show on the road, playing guitar and playing piano and leading singalongs. They were headliners at well-known venues like Grace Presbyterian Retirement Village in Dallas and Morningside in Rock Hill. They were active members of Woodland United Methodist Church. Bob was a favorite on church committees because he lived by the motto, “You never learn anything new by listening to yourself talk.” Bob and Karen co-chaired the social committee of the Fellowship Class. Hosting numerous parties, Bob and Karen would often entice party goers to play their beloved trivia with fabulous prizes like canned tuna fish and Irish Spring soap.
Bob lived a full and meaningful life. He passed away on September 26, 2022, surrounded by those who loved him because Bob always remembered what was important.
He is survived by his wife, Karen; sister, Joan Toye; son, John (Stacy) Peterson; Peterson grandchildren, Elisabeth (Phillip) Gao, Katie (Tim) Six, Brian, Kirsten, Rebekah (Holden) Ross, Johnny (Emma), Michael, Lydia, Luke, Grace, Anna, and Ben; Peterson great grandchildren, Henry and Colin Gao, Lucy and Teddy Six, John Isaac Peterson; and daughter, Laura (Charlie) Humphreys; and grandson, Charlie Humphreys.
A Celebration of Life will be held on Monday, October 10, 2022, at 11:00 a.m. at the Woodland United Methodist Church, 801 N. Cherry Road, Rock Hill, SC 29732.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to Tunnel to Towers Foundation (Tunnel to Towers Foundation (t2t.org) or Woodland United Methodist Church.
Bass Cauthen Funeral Home is serving the family.