May 22, 2019 — Richard Lee Peterson passed away Friday May 3, 2019, at 11:20 p.m., with his family beside him.
Known to many as “Pete” Peterson, he spent the later years of his life living in Greentrees Village in the quaint coastal town of Florence, with his wife, Shirley Ann Peterson, who passed away on Feb. 26, 2016.
They were married 60 years, loved their pet cats and local wild birds at their beautiful property on the river.
Pete was born in Angels Camp California, Feb. 5, 1931, to Walter Lee and Virginia Rose Peterson, and first lived in the small gold-mining town of Melones, Calif. (now under Melones Lake).
After the mines closed, the family moved to El Cerrito, Calif., where Pete had a paper route as a boy and bought his first motor bike — a Cushman Scooter.
In the early 1940s, the family moved to Orland, Calif., where his father bought him an Indian Motorcycle at the age of 15 in 1946. He started practicing right away and began racing on dirt tracks in Chico, Redding, Corning, Red Bluff, Marysville, Lodi, Fresno, Santa Rosa and Sacramento.
By 1949, he was winning so much he decided to become professional and was sponsored by his lifetime buddy, Bill Brownell, who owned the Chico Honda Triumph Dealership (back then Indian/Cushman) and the Cycleland Speedway Race Track.)
Then, Pete enlisted in the U.S. Army and trained as a paratrooper at Fort Bragg, N.C., for the Korean War, and was honorably discharged in January 1954 as a sergeant in the 2nd Batalion, 504th Airborne Infantry, 82nd Airborne Division.
Following his discharge, Pete met Shirley Mais who became his wife. They moved to Chico, Calif., where Pete started a Shell Gas Station and started raising four young children: Danny, Dave, Kathleen and Jeanine.
After a while, the family moved to Orland, Calif., where Pete worked at Barcelous Brothers Auto Parts as a shop machinist and quickly became well known for providing the best machine work in Northern California for the next 25 years.
In 1978, he bought the business, which is now known as Orland NAPA Auto Parts, and ran it for 10 years. During that time, he bought a Cessna airplane and enjoyed exploring numerous small towns and airports together with Shirley.
He sold the business to his eldest son, Dan, and moved with Shirely to San Fransisco to enjoy retirement after many years of hard work — but an earthquake in 1998 encouraged them it was time to leave the city!
They relocated to Sun River, Ore., to enjoy a mountain lifestyle. However, once they visited Florence, Ore., they fell in love with the coastal town and moved there permanantly.
Pete and Shirley visited frequently with many friends in the historic downtown area, spending hours at their favorite coffee shop. They loved the friendly, relaxing pace in Oregon so much they never wanted to leave.
While in Florence, Pete’s hobbies included building a wonderful collection of over 60 antique motorcycles with Bill Brownell and participating in antique motorcycle club events throughout the western states, parading his bikes on back roads and in fun little towns for people to enjoy.
Pete also loved displaying different bikes each year during the annual Florence Rhododendron Festival for locals to enjoy and talk about. Pete continued to fly his airplane a lot and even bought a boat to try his hand at crab fishing.
Pete’s passion in life really was his wife, family, friends, animals and — of course — motorcycles. In fact, his motorcycle buddies will all tell you Pete was a great guy, and he was damn fast!