Saturday, 11 December 1999
Earl Petty, the Gainesville insurance man whose son became a world-famous rock star, died Friday morning after a long history of illness. He was 75.
Tom Petty's dad still lived in the house he bought in 1947, where he and wife, Katherine, raised Tom, now 49, and Bruce, 47.
"He died comfortably at home," said Gainesville Police Department Capt. Sadie Darnell, Mr. Petty's niece, who grew up in the house next door.
Although the cause of death has not been determined, Mr. Petty, who retired in 1988, suffered from diabetes, emphysema and other ailments.
A native of Bronson, Mr. Petty was an Air Force groundsman in Egypt during World War II. After the war, he returned to Gainesville and went to work as a truck driver for the Eli Witt tobacco and candy company.
After he married Katherine "Kitty" Avery in 1947, Mr. Petty was hired as an underwriter by the National Standard Insurance Co. He and his wife both taught Sunday school at North Central Baptist Church.
Katherine Petty died in 1980, the same year Tom released his first million-selling album.
"I didn't ever think he'd make anything in music," Mr. Petty told The Sun in 1990. "But I admired him for doing it; it made me feel good having somebody in the family that could play a tune, because none of the rest of us could."
Katherine Johney Avery Petty
1927–1980 (m. 1947)
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