On Wednesday, August 10, 2016, the family of Representative Harold “Jack” Peterman announced that he had passed away. Representative Peterman represented the 33rd District in the House of Representatives. He was 74 years old.
“Do you have all day?” Scott Peterman, Representative Peterman’s son said when asked about his father. “He did what he loved to do every single day. He loved being a politician. He loved his constituents and it was as if this was what he was born to do. I could spend forever telling you the things he did for me and my brother, Barry, but, in all honesty, we are his sons and he was supposed to do most of those things. It is what he did for his constituents that is important.”
Representative Peterman was a crop and chicken farmer prior to entering politics. His son said that he actually retired from farming to enter politics. According to Mr. Peterman, his father was frustrated when the wastewater treatment plant was not working properly. He tried to get it fixed and when he was unsuccessful, Mr. Peterman said his father “entered politics the next day and never looked back.”
Mr. Peterman said that his father’s world changed completely in 2009 when his mother, Sandy, his granddaughter, Madison, and a family friend, Hannah Davies, were killed on Route 1 when a propane truck struck Mrs. Peterman’s car on the shoulder as she and the girls watched a fire at the Hampton Inn, which was then under construction.
“I am happy that my father is reunited with my mother and Madison in heaven today rather than suffering as he has been over the past few months,” Mr. Peterman said. “Since my mom died, it has been one health issue after another. The last one took the wind out of his sails and I think he was just ready to see her again.”
Mr. Peterman said that the outpouring of sympathy has been overwhelming. He said that his phone had not stopped ringing with people asking what they could do to help. Other state legislators expressed their condolences and respect for Representative Peterman upon hearing of his death.
“Jack was an inspiration to his many friends and colleagues in the General Assembly,” Senator Gary Simpson said. “His grit and determination inspired all of us. He was a tireless advocate for his constituents both from the many years he served on the Kent County Levy Court to his time in the Delaware House of Representatives. Debbie and I send our deepest condolences and prayers to his family. Rest in peace, Jack.”
Representative Harvey Kenton said that he had known Representative Peterman for many years as they were both born in Milford less than one year apart. Like Representative Kenton, Representative Peterman was raised in Milford, attending school at Milford School District together.
“As adults, we crossed paths on occasions too numerous to mention,” Representative Kenton said. “For the past six years, I had the honor of serving with him in the House of Representatives. We were friends, colleagues and partners in representing Milford with his district encompassing the north half of the city while I was responsible for the southern half. Jack’s presences in my life will be greatly missed and his absence in the legislature will create a void that will not easily be filled. I join with his family and many friends in celebrating his life and mourning his passing.”
Representative Peterman announced earlier this year that he would not seek reelection for his seat in the House of Representatives. His son joked that people told him he should still run because even if he died, he would probably win. Mr. Peterman said that this was a testament to his father’s tenacity and support for his constituents.
“I could tell you many stories about the people he helped, some that would surprise you,” Mr. Peterman said. “But my father would not have wanted me to do that. He was a humble man who never bragged about his accomplishments. He did so much for so many people that they now want to give back to him.”
One way that people can honor Representative Peterman is to continue to support organizations that he held dear to his heart – Milford Lions Club, of which he was a lifetime member, and volunteer fire companies around the region. Mr. Peterman said that his father became a strong supporter of local fire companies when the family home burned down in 1990. Mr. Peterman said that his father endorsed Bob Scott for his seat in the House when he decided not to run because he knew Mr. Scott would carry on his legacy.
“My father was a great man, not just to his family, but to his community,” Mr. Peterman said. “You don’t see people like him in politics anymore. He stood up for what he believed in, sometimes making enemies along the way, but, to him, his word was his bond. I told Barry over and over again the past few weeks as we sat with Dad at the end that someone had big shoes to fill.”
Services for Representative Peterman are scheduled for Thursday, August 18 at the Milford Church of the Nazarene, with a viewing from 9 AM until 2 PM and a service immediately following.
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