Pete P Peters


Pete P Peters

Death 13 Mar 2012 (aged 94)
Burial Unknown
Memorial ID 86845006 View Source
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Pete Peters combined with his brother to build a landmark Fresno company, then spent decades making his mark in the Valley as one of its leading philanthropists.

All along, say those who knew him best, he remained true to his Fowler raisin farm roots with a quiet, affable demeanor that earned him the nickname "Uncle Pete" around one of his favorite charities, Community Medical Centers.
Mr. Peters died at his home.

The youngest son of Armenian immigrants, Mr. Peters helped his brother, Leon S. Peters, grow Valley Foundry and Machine Works. The firm made everything from wine-grape crushers to ship winches.

Mr. Peters gave generously to Community Regional Medical Center, California State University, Fresno, and other community organizations. He was instrumental in the building of Community's burn center. And he helped establish the Alice A. Peters Nursing Scholarship (honoring his brother's wife) that has helped numerous nurses complete their education.

Community Medical Centers will soon announce a sizable commitment to Clovis Community Medical Center that will add to Mr. Peters' contributions, said Robert V. Saroyan, vice president of development at Community Medical Foundation.

Mr. Peters was known to show up unannounced and unaccompanied at Community Regional Medical Center and Clovis Community, where he was known as "Uncle Pete." He'd walk through the hospital, greet people and make his own assessment of how things were working, Saroyan said.
"He didn't need an entourage," Saroyan said. "He wasn't that kind of guy."

Mr. Peters joined his brother's company in 1939 as a machinist. A self-trained engineer, Mr. Peters is credited for creating a design for a stainless steel circular tank that has been used for decades by winemakers around the world.

In 1969, Valley Foundry was sold to AMETEK Inc., and Mr. Peters continued as vice president. He was named CEO after his brother's death in 1983.

Mr. Peters retired in 1989 and remained active in the community, creating and running a charitable organization that has donated millions to Valley organizations.
Mr. Peters created and served as chairman of the board of the Pete P. Peters Foundation. He also oversaw the Leon S. Peters Foundation.

Together the two foundations have donated to numerous organizations, including Fresno State, Community Regional Medical Center, Valley Public Television, the San Joaquin River Parkway and the Boys & Girls Clubs of Fresno County.
The Peters name is on a number of community buildings, a testament to the family's philanthropy. At Fresno State, there is the Leon and Pete Peters Educational Center and the Pete P. Peters Ellipse Balcony in the Madden Library.
And there is the Leon S. and Pete Peters Future Generation Center at Clovis Community.

In 2009, Fresno State conferred an honorary doctoral degree on Mr. Peters during the university's commencement ceremony.

"I am deeply saddened by the passing of Pete Peters, a member of a family whose legacy is written large on our campus and elsewhere in Fresno," said Fresno State President John D. Welty. "Dr. Peters was a man of integrity who didn't seek the spotlight even as his generosity brightened thousands of lives."

Mr. Peters also served on numerous boards and commissions such as the San Joaquin River Parkway & Conservation Trust Inc.

In 2011, Mr. Peters was the recipient of the Leon S. Peters Award, presented annually by the Greater Fresno Area Chamber of Commerce to honor a local business person for success in business, leadership and community service.
"Pete Peters is truly a special man," Fresno County Superior Court Judge Robert Oliver said then.
"He is genuinely a humble person who cares deeply about this community and the people who live in it."

Survivors: Daughters Lorraine Peters Wilson and Elaine Peters Neuss; three grandchildren, Carla Neuss, Alex Neuss and Rebecca Neuss.

Services: Visitation, 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday at Lisle Funeral Home. Funeral, 11 a.m. Monday at First Armenian Presbyterian Church.

In lieu of flowers, donations maybe made to First Armenian Presbyterian Church, 430 S. First St., Fresno, CA 93702.
Another tribute reads:

Pete, a well known Fresno business man and philanthropist, passed away peacefully at home surrounded by family. A beloved father, grandfather and uncle to many nephews and nieces he was fondly called "Uncle Pete" by everyone he met, a name he dearly cherished. He lived a full life with his twin daughters, grandchildren, sons-in-law, nephews and nieces and all his friends and extended family members.

Pete was born in Fowler. The youngest of five children he was born to Samuel and Lillian Bagdesarian Peters from Armenia. At the young age of six, Pete's mother passed away unexpectedly, leaving Leon, Karnig, Melba, Aram and Pete to the care of Samuel. Life on the farm consisted of helping their father with the farm work, cooking, tending the animals and finally homework. Though Pete spoke of his father being strict and running a tight ship they enjoyed racing the plow horses up and down the furrows and playing practical jokes on one another.

Upon graduating from Fowler High School in 1935, Pete worked the night shift at Gobel Disc. then joined his brother Leon at Valley Foundry and Machine Works.

With the onset of World War II, Pete enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps and served in Burma and India working as an airplane mechanic.

After the war, Pete returned to Valley Foundry as vice president and sales manager. Pete and Leon became "the perfect team" quickly setting their sights on meeting the needs of the wine industry by designing and manufacturing crushers, tanks and presses. Pete also partnered with his brother Aram, "Shorty" Peters in the family farming operation. In 1976 Pete designed the first seamless, stainless steel panel 750,000 gallon wine tank that revolutionized the wine industry. As a result, Valley Foundry enjoyed many profitable years thus merging with Ametek in 1968. Dad remained instrumental in the company's growth until he retired at the age of 73.

He met Gladys Kermoyan of Berkeley at a Fresno Armenian picnic and they married in 1951. They became parents to Lorraine and Elaine, fraternal twin daughters on September 20, 1952. Family time consisted of travels to Mexico, Canada, Europe, Guatemala, snow and water skiing, and numerous camping trips to the Sierras to boat and fish. He was a proud Dad who thought nothing of rising at 5:00 a.m. to start the coals for the best BBQ chicken on earth before a day on Lake Millerton. He also enjoyed many camping trips and Fresno Bulldogs basketball games with his nieces and nephews and their families.

Pete was active in numerous clubs and charities. His philanthropic efforts included the Boy Scouts, California State University, Fresno; Community Regional Medical Centers and the Fresno Metropolitan Museum of Art. Everyone who knew him as Dad, Grandpa or Uncle Pete, can agree he was sharp as a tack, a successful businessman, played a mean hand of pinochle and gin rummy, generous to many and above all, grateful to be able to give back to the community of Fresno. Our father touched many lives also as a mentor. God bless all of you who loved our Dad and received his love in return.

Embracing him in Heaven now are his parents, siblings, sisters-in-law, Gladys and Barbara Peters and his nephews, Lee Yeramian and Darrell Peters.

He is survived by his daughters, Lorraine Peters Wilson and Elaine Peters Neuss; son-in-law, Carl Neuss; and grandchildren, Carl, Alex and Rebecca Neuss. He is also survived by numerous nephews, nieces and cousins.

A Memorial Service will be held at the First Armenian Presbyterian Church, 430 S. First St. Fresno, Ca. 93702 on Monday, March 19, 2012, at 11:00 a.m.

Donations, in lieu of flowers, may be made to the church above; or the donor's choice.

Published in the Fresno Bee on March 18,


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