A “Celebration of Life” service will be held Saturday (Jan. 8) at 2 p.m., in the Activity Center at Rainbow’s End, in Livingston, Texas, for Joe Peterson, co-founder of the Escapees RV Club, who died Dec. 22.
Following is his official obituary as provided by the club
Joe was born in Carlsbad, N.M, on April 23, 1927, and spent a lonely childhood as the son of a laborer at Carlsbad Caverns. Like so many others born in this generation, life was tough, but he pulled himself up by his bootstraps and never allowed the hardships to beat him out of a successful life.
After completing his service in the Navy in 1946, Joe, now 19, went immediately to Alaska, where people said you could make a million dollars. He didn’t take up gold panning, but, rather, he joined the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW). This led to a prestigious craft that not only allowed him to make a solid income for his family, it later enabled him to travel and work at his trade in 27 states. Eventually, these factors, combined with the encouragement of his enthusiastic wife, Kay Peterson, miraculously led to the inception of the Escapees RV Club in 1978. Joe received his 60-year union electrician pin in 2007. It is an honor few people attain.
Joe was embarrassed that he never received his high school diploma, but if you didn’t know better, you might have suspected he had a PhD. One of his heroes was Benjamin Franklin, who, like Joe, was self-taught and read everything he could get his hands on. There wasn’t a single subject Joe couldn’t discuss intelligently, and he often enjoyed taking the “other side” just to encourage a debate!
Some say Joe actually struck gold in 1964 when he met Catherine (Kay) Keith, who within the year became his wife. It was, without a doubt, the most important turning point of his life. Joe and Kay made a team that was so complementary and strong that they were named one of the most influential couples in the RV industry. And today thousands of friends all across North America and beyond grieve along with his family.
Joe’s strength and determination were evident through the many challenges he faced and overcame. But what most folks will remember is that he never met a stranger. They will remember how his endless stream of jokes and quick wit made them laugh out loud. They will remember that he was never too proud to shed a tear, too meek to take a stand, or too masculine to withhold a hug.
With a sparkle in his bright blue eyes and a smile on his face, he told the surgical team one last joke and then went to sleep. He may never know what an impact he had on so many lives, or how this crazy old world just won’t be the same without him in it to make us laugh.
Joe is survived by his wife, Kay, six children (two preceded him in death), along with 20 grandchildren, 15 great-grandchildren, and one great-great-grandchild.
If you would like to honor Joe, please send a donation to Escapees CARE Inc. (155 CARE Center Drive, Livingston, TX 77351), or to a charity of your choosing.