The Story of Roger Peterson


Back in 1977, I moved to a little town in North Central Washington State…. a place called Tonasket.  To me, growing up around many towns and cities, I didn’t know what to expect.  All I knew was this was the 3rd move in as many years, and I wasn’t too excited about moving to a town of 964 people.

As time moved by, things got better.  I was in 5th grade, but started out playing in the high school jazz band right after I moved there, and made a few friends, all of whom I call ‘first flight’ friends…. people who you need when you first start something, or move somewhere… people to keep you sane, until you meet the real friends who will remain for life.

Summer time came, and there was a Bible camp/class being held in the little town of Ellisforde.  I remember my mother suggesting we should go to it.  I was NOT interested in the slightest.  Being 10 years old doesn’t give you much in the way of say, so I did go, and ended up meeting a future life long friend.  His name:  Roger Peterson.

Roger had that way about him.  He was cool.  Cool to me, at least.  He had the blondest hair of anyone I’d ever met (and still to this day has yet to be rivaled).  He played guitar.  He was funny.  He taught me how to work a riding lawn mower.  Basically, he was like a big brother, as he was all the way up in 8th grade, and I was a lowly 5th grader.

Over the years, Roger protected me.  He ended up ‘being’ my big brother in so many ways.

  • He spent time with me in jazz band….. so much time.  One nerd to another.
  • He kept me safe by helping me befriend various seniors who wanted to give me flushies when I was a freshman in high school.
  • When I was 15, he took me to Canada for my first bar drink, helping me to sneak in when the drinking age was 19.  (We thought that if I wore a necklace, it’d make me look older).  It worked.  Ha!
  • He gave me my first cigarette. (sorry, Mom)  I tried to chew gum to hide the smell from my parents, but they knew.  I never did smoke again.  Not my thing.
  • He dated Lana Lesamiz, of which I had a bit of a jealous streak over.
  • He dated Ledlie Hagerty (who preceeded him in death), and whom I had one kiss.
  • We spent a LOT of time in that old yellow Pinto of his, listening to Aerosmith on the 8 track, heading to Omak to go to the bowling alley (I still don’t know why we always went there).

I could go on and on.

Roger Peterson died in his sleep last night at the very young age of 52.  It’s like I have said before….. once you jump past that middle age threshold, people are shocked by your death at a young age, but it’s like you’re fair game to life and death.  Roger jumped over the threshold in his sleep.

“Once God knows where our loyalty lies, He opens a new door that meets the desires of our hearts. God takes pleasure in seeing His creation used for His glory. ” – ​Os Hillman

Roger was a joy to so many.  He lived his life simply and with graciousness.  I will miss him.