Family Tribute:Billy grew up in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, and was the youngest of three children. Following his older brother, Bobby, he attended Poly Prep., graduating with the class of 1972. After high school, Billy attended Tufts University in Boston. He majored in Economics, graduating in 1976 with a Bachelor’s Degree. Over the next few years, he attended POH’s Institute and the College of Insurance for additional courses in Business Insurance and Law.
Billy began his employment at Blue Cross Blue Shield in 1978 as a Work Standard Analyst. The following year he went to work for the Liberty Mutual Insurance Company where he remained as a Claims Adjuster until 1984. In 1985, Guy Carpenter & Company offered him a position as a Reinsurance Claims Broker. He remained with Marsh & McLennan for the next 14 years, most recently working as a Claims Examiner with Excess & Treaty Management Corporation, a Marsh & McLennan subsidiary. His office was on the 94th floor of Tower One of the World Trade Center.
Billy was not defined by work alone. Although he was a perfectionist and meticulous in his undertaking of projects at work, it was what he did on his time off that more accurately defined him.
Billy’s all-time favorite pastime was to take his boat out to Jamaica Bay and fish. He rarely came back empty-handed. He enjoyed cooking for family and friends and could be found barbecuing all year long. To keep fit, he converted his basement into a gym and was also active on a night volleyball league leading them to the championship this past summer. Billy had a natural talent for photography, preferring nature as his subject. His spectacular sunsets and rainbows grace many a neighbor’s home in Breezy Point.
Two years ago when two other Poly graduates moved to his block, he was very happy. He thought it was the greatest thing to be reunited with his old buddies. He kept saying, very seriously, “We should rename this block “Poly Lane.’” Billy held many fond memories of his days at Poly and shared them often. He kept mementos of those early years throughout his adult life. He kept football schedules, yearbooks, and his #33 jersey all tucked in his closet.
Billy enjoyed the simple pleasures the most. Walks on the beach, long talks with friends, entertaining his Dad and friends in Naples, Florida, and cuddling with the cats were among his favorites. He had a wonderful sense of humor, an outgoing personality, and an infectious smile. When he made a friend – it was for life.
Billy’s cheerful disposition and easy-going manner are the things that he will be most remembered for. His neighbors secretly referred to him as “The Mayor” and “The Welcoming Committee.” He was definitely the glue that bound many lifelong relationships.
He Savored Simple Life Fishing in Jamaica Bay
William Russell Peterson and his wife, Robin, lived a simple life. They didn't believe in owning a computer or an answering machine. And if their remote control was missing? Oh well.
They preferred the simpler pleasures. The times they glided across the waters of Jamaica Bay in their 14-foot boat are still vivid memories for Robin Peterson. A self-proclaimed city girl, she never pictured herself hooking bait or casting a line before she met her husband in 1994. 'The first time we went fishing together was an experience,' she said. 'I took to it, though. It was something we really enjoyed doing together.'
On the evening of Sept. 10, she arrived at their Breezy Point home from work sometime between 6 and 6:30 p.m. Her husband and a few of his friends had cast their lines into Jamaica Bay hoping to sneak in a few hours of night fishing before dinner. He returned home with his healthy share of bluefish and bass, and the couple spent two hours cleaning his bounty. They had a 'leisurely fish dinner' at 9:30 p.m. and turned in an hour later.
The next morning, Peterson, 46, and his wife had coffee together before he left for work. 'He liked his coffee dark with no sugar,' she said. 'Dark and strong for the ride to work.'
The claims examiner for Marsh & McLennan drove his car to the Rockaway Park subway station and caught the A train to Chambers Street, a few blocks from his office on the 94th floor of Tower One. He is presumed dead in the terrorist attacks.
Born in Bay Ridge, Peterson graduated from Poly Prep Country Day School there in 1972 and earned his bachelor's degree in economics from Tufts University in Massachusetts in 1976. He worked at the Manhattan offices of Blue Cross Blue Shield before joining the Liberty Mutual Insurance Co. in Lake Success. After several years there, he was courted and hired by Guy Carpenter and Co., a division of Marsh&McLennan.; He joined its parent company 14 years ago.
Peterson's family made trips from Bay Ridge to their summer home in Breezy Point when he was a boy, his wife said. It was there that he forged lifelong friendships and began to see the value of life in the quaint Queens hamlet, where he and his wife eventually settled.
'He liked the small-town feel in Breezy Point,' she said. Trips to the corner store for a gallon of milk would take an hour 'because he'd bump into someone he knew.'
And at home, whenever her loquacious husband had a look on his face as if he were trying to remember something he shouldn't have forgotten, she had to remind him 'that he was trying to figure out who to call.' He laughed at that, knowing she hit the nail right on the head.
'He loved talking on the phone,' she said. 'He'd call me three or four times every day. Sometimes he'd talk to my co-workers for five or 10 minutes before I even knew it was him that called.'
In addition to his wife, Peterson is survived by his father, Robert, of Naples, Fla.; a brother, Robert, of Pembrook, Fla.; and a sister, Dianne Hudder of Miami.
'I'm very happy we shared our time on such a personal level,' his wife said. 'He was my best friend. Everything we did, we did together.'
(c) 2001 Newsday, Inc. Reprinted with permission.www.newsday.com