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Cedar Mill News

Volume 16, Issue 2
February 2018


Charles Gary Peterson, August 1934 - January 2018

Charles Gary Peterson passed away Jan. 13, 2018, in Portland, surrounded by his family.

Born in 1934 in Portland, he attended Roosevelt High School. He went to Oregon State University and attained a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering. After a short time in California he returned home to Oregon where he lived for the rest of his life.

Charles Gary Peterson

In 1966 Gary opened his own consulting office as a sole proprietor. Over the next 30 years he would achieve a wide reputation as a highly respected, effective and reliable professional. He also served as President of the Oregon Chapter of the American Society of Civil Engineers. In 1996 he and his son Erik joined forces and formed Peterson Structural Engineers. From that point Gary pursued his love of numbers, calculations and engineering and supported the growth of the new firm around him. He retired in 2014 but continued to observe and support the success of the firm he helped to create.

Gary was a jazz pianist and played music all of his life. He was the leader of several jazz bands—in particular Stumptown Jazz, a Dixieland band that was active between 1982 and 2004. He went on to act in amateur theater, especially in The Portland Revels, where he performed and was active on their board.

Gary had a charming, buoyant personality that attracted many friends. He was an utterly unique person with distinct passions and preferences. His great height and dramatic beard made him quite eye-catching, and he was often sighted driving around town in his powder-blue 1960 MGA, sometimes during the dead of winter wearing a rabbit skin hat to keep him warm. He loved travel, music, classic cars and Woody Allen movies. He pursued his passions and followed his dreams.

Gary is survived by his wife, Jane Starbird; his sister, Carol; his three children, Erik, Leslie and Kurt. He has three grandchildren, Maya, Charlie and Olympia. His first wife, Sue Peterson Conger, was well known in Cedar Mill for her support of the library and for preserving the historic JQA Young House. They purchased and renovated the Kieni house, former site of West Hills Dairy.

A Celebration of Life is to be held from 4:30-7:30 p.m., Feb. 11, 2018, at The Lucky Labrador Quimby Beer Hall. Donations may be made in his name to: or

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Published monthly by Pioneer Marketing & Design
Publisher/Editor:Virginia Bruce
PO Box 91061
Portland, Oregon 97291
© 2013