William George Petterson, 71, visited every major US national park, landmark during 2-month road trip

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William George Petterson
William George Petterson

William George Petterson, a loyal and loving husband, father, grandfather and friend, died June 27, 2015, at the beloved family home he built in Southport.

He had his wife, Judith Carol (nee Orris) Petterson by his side and the loving support of his family with him, especially during the last weeks of his brave battle with cancer.

He is survived by his wife, Judy; daughter, Cindy Anderson (husband, Peter and children, Ella and Sophia); son, William Petterson (wife, Jacqueline and children, Lauren, Colby and Nicholas); and daughter, Kimberly Grijalva (husband, Yuri and children, Kai and Rylie).

Bill, as he was known by family and friends, was a true family man in every sense. He took immense pride in and cared deeply for his three children, their spouses and his seven grandchildren. A man for traditions, it meant the world to Bill to be surrounded by his children and their families. In his dinner toast at the last family gathering he was full of emotion and said simply, “Thank you all for being here, this is the best Christmas ever.”

Christmas was his favorite holiday and the Petterson household waited until everyone in the family was home to decorate the tree together on Christmas Eve. Bill also proposed to his wife during the Christmas Eve service at Our Savior Lutheran Church in Centereach, New York. The two were high school sweethearts who went to their proms together. They recently celebrated 51 years of marriage.

Bill and Judy had a love of travel that began with long road trips from New York to Florida to experience launches of the Apollo program. Bill carefully planned what he called his favorite vacation, a two-month summer road trip with a 21-foot travel trailer that took the family from the East Coast westward, then from south of the California border to Canada and back across the United States, stopping at every major national park and landmark.

Bill also loved to ski and the sport became a thread that wove through the Petterson family history. The summer vacation travel trailer became a winter cabin on the lake for ski trips in New England. Later, a historic home in Vermont was transformed into a home base for family ski trips. Bill also planned the first family adventure abroad with a ski trip to Switzerland and then later a trip to the Italian Alps.

A love of skiing took Bill and Judy to Reno, Nevada, where they made their home in the mountains of the Sierra Nevada for 16 years. They enjoyed downhill skiing in the winter and sailing on Lake Tahoe in the summer and Bill had the opportunity to take up an early hobby playing golf. They had a family dog nearly all of their 51 years together including Bill’s beloved white rescue dog Reno, named for the snow and the town they loved so much.

Bill and Judy returned to the East Coast, choosing Southport for their retirement home. They continued traveling, gaining a love for taking cruises around the world. Bill was adept at finding deals and there was always another trip on the horizon. In his last weeks, he reminisced about a cruise from Portugal to Rome aboard the Silversea Whisper to cities that would become his favorites. He lamented about the cruise to New Zealand and Australia that he postponed due to illness, a bucket list trip he realized he would never fulfill.

Bill was born at home in Queens, New York, son of the late William and Marie (nee Moser) Petterson. They lived above their delicatessen before moving to Centereach, New York. He was from the second graduating class at Newfield High School in Selden, New York, and later graduated with a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from Long Island University.

He served with commendation as a police officer for the Suffolk County Police Department in Long Island, New York, for 25 years, earning the rank of detective sergeant. He later accepted a position as senior investigator with the Attorney General’s Office for the State of Nevada. He went on to build three custom homes, including his pride and joy in St. James Plantation.

His work and his travels were the source of many a story that he told at gatherings. Bill’s dry sense of humor and quick wit will be dearly missed by all.

He was an active member of the Brunswick Newcomers Club, volunteering on numerous committees during the past eight years and actively participating in various fundraising events. He continued to play golf and was a member of the St. James men’s bowling league.

In recent years, Bill and Judy became members of the St. Peter Evangelical Lutheran Church in Southport. Bill formed an immediate bond with the pastor, the Rev. David P. Nelson, who offered him comfort and peace in his final hours.

In June 2014, at St. Peter, Bill and Judy marked the occasion of 50 years of marriage with a reaffirmation of their vows officiated by Pastor Dave. They had a bridal party with Judy’s sister, Diane, her husband, Steve, and Bill and Judy’s children and grandchildren and followed the church service with a wedding-style reception for family and friends.

Visitation will be held from 5 to 7:30 p.m. Friday, July 10, 2015, at Peacock, Newnam & White Funeral and Cremation Service, 1411 N. Howe St., Southport, NC 28461. The funeral service will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday, July 11, 2015, at St. Peter Evangelical Lutheran Church, 4843 Southport-Supply Road, Southport, NC 28461 followed by burial at Oakdale Cemetery, 520 North 15th St., Wilmington, NC 28401.

The family suggests, in lieu of flowers, a memorial contribution in the name of William George Petterson be sent to St. Peter Evangelical Lutheran Church, 4843 Southport-Supply Road, Southport, NC 28461, 910-457-5604 or Lower Cape Fear Hospice, 1414 Physicians Drive, Wilmington, NC 28401, 910-796-7900.

Please leave online condolences for the family at Peacock, Newnam & White Funeral and Cremation Service.

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