David “Pappy” Rosemond Peterson died Sunday, May 3, 2015, at New Hanover Regional Medical Center. He was 91.
Pappy was born Feb. 22, 1924, in Wilmington, son of the late David T. and Lucille M. Peterson. In addition to his parents, he was preceded in death by his wife of 66 years, Doris M. Peterson; son, David M. Peterson; and brother, Eugene A. Peterson.
He is survived by his daughter, Brenda C. Peterson; nephew, Chris D. Peterson; niece, Kate M. Peterson; and a huge family of dear friends.
David was raised in the “Dry Pond” area of Wilmington and had, at an early age, a love and respect for the outdoors. Whether hunting or fishing or just sitting around a campfire swapping stories, he was in his element. Born in Wilmington, so close to the ocean, he never would have been happy living anywhere else. Pappy was a great swimmer and in high school worked as a lifeguard and a mate on a party boat at Wrightsville Beach.
After graduating from New Hanover High School in 1942, David joined the U.S. Coast Guard and served at a lifeboat station on Long Island, New York. He later transferred to the U.S. Navy where he flew on a PBY as a navigator and radioman. The PBY, a patrol bomber, was a flying boat. It could take off and land on the water and was also used for search and rescue and submarine warfare.
After WWII, Pappy worked as an artist and photographer in the printing business. Staying put in Wilmington, he worked at Jackson Bell and Wilmington Printing Company and Coastal Zone Resources Corp. as a commercial and graphic artist. Earlier he had spent time at the Atlantic Coast Line and the Wilmington Star News as a staff photographer. While working for the Star News, he recalled begrudgingly giving up his regular Saturday off to help photograph the first Azalea Festival parade.
But as hard as Pappy worked for a living, he played even harder. He found time to build boats, repair motors, clean guns, wrap fishing rods, carve decoys and make hunting knives. But whenever there was a chance, Pappy would be on the water or in the woods presumably fishing or hunting. As all who knew him would agree, Pappy just loved being outdoors with his friends.
David loved people, had a great sense of humor, a “magic personality” and a talent for finding common ground for conversation with anyone. He was not impressed with what you had, but who you were as a person. Pappy’s love for conversation and writing about the outdoors found an outlet in his weekly “For the Outdoor Sportsman” column in the Wilmington Star News. It was a regular Sunday feature enjoyed by friends and fellow enthusiasts for almost 40 years.
A reunion with family, friends and neighbors will be held from 4 to 7 p.m. Thursday, May 7, 2015, at 6200 Fox Run Road in Wilmington. A graveside service will be held at 2 p.m. Friday, May 8, 2015, at Greenlawn Memorial Park.
Below is reprinted a column Pappy wrote as a memorial for a dear friend, Henry Hall, at his passing Feb. 2, 1980. They shared lots of good times around a campfire, and I suspect they still are.
“There’s more to Life than the Big Score”
On a barrier beach swept by wind and rain, two men huddled under the meager but adequate protection of a hastily-rigged tarp tied to a 9×9 tent. Their supper sizzled in a frying pan on a gasoline stove and occasionally popped from the intrusion of a vagrant drop of rain. Fishing had been poor because of the bad weather, but the pair had managed to catch a few small spot and one sand shark.
“Did the thought ever occur to you that we’re a couple of idiots?” one said to the other.
“No”, the cook replied, “I can’t think of any place I’d rather be at this time than right here.”
And he spoke the truth. In spite of conditions, they were sheltered from the rain, both were dressed for the weather and they had a tent and dry sleeping bags to crawl into.
“The trouble with most people today,” the cook expounded, “is that they get so used to the city living that they forget what it’s like to get out and enjoy the things that are basic.”
And, with a wave of his hand he indicated the rain-shrouded dunes, the pounding surf and finally the broad expanse of salt marsh. “We’re completely alone out here,” he said, “and that is a unique experience this day and time.”
He was right, of course. There is an incredible waste of the outdoors. Even for those who are hunters and fishermen, few stop long enough to smell the roses, as the saying goes. They’re intent only on what they can gain.
These are the takers-those who are primarily motivated by what they receive as a reward for their efforts. If a fishing or hunting trip proves fruitless, they consider it a failure. The takers rarely absorb, or even appreciate, the outdoors, for what it really represents. They cannot derive the special pleasure from merely being there.
That was the last trip with the cook in the aforementioned story. Henry Hall died recently, before his time, but he left behind the premise that you cannot always measure your success by the weight of your game bag or the fish in the cooler.
Henry wasn’t a particularly skilled hunter or fisherman. He didn’t consider expertise in either area a prerequisite for enjoying what the outdoors had to offer. In fact, he did not hold the acknowledged experts in awe because he had found that they were involved only in what they could gain. Takers.
As a camp cook, he made a ritual out of simple meals, delighting in the fraternal aspects when everyone gathered about the fire. Sharing the experiences with friends was high on his list of priorities.
I am going to miss Henry because he was one of the last with whom you could share a campfire and, regardless of the weather or an unsuccessful trip, make you realize there is more to life than making a big score.
By David Peterson
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