I went to Rowan College in the fall of 1993. I didn’t know anyone there, and I was more than 100 miles from the only home I had ever known. I was scared.
The first week of classes, some guy came to an 8AM class in his pajamas. I remember thinking that he was trying for nonconformity too hard.
Sure enough, that was Pete, and Pete was going to be my best friend.
He only spent a year at Rowan (I spent four). But in that year, he and I developed a friendship that was more like being family members than friends.
I think everyone wants to be part of a community. Some choose faith, some choose civic groups, some choose a particular sub-culture. No one wants to be alone. Pete and I (and a few others) discovered that staying up late, playing music softly, and just talking was a creative, communal experience. We spent a lot of time doing exactly that. That year was the best year of my life; I was surrounded by a group of people who cared about me and about each other. Those people are still largely in my life; hell, I married one.
In the last few years, my wife and I were lucky enough to own a house with swimming pool directly between Pete’s house and his parents’. So we saw him twice a year, and swam together when it was warm enough. He was the DJ at my wedding (just manned the iPod).
I miss him. There’s a lot I don’t understand about his choices. I wish I could have been there for him at the end.
Thanks, Jonathan, for getting in touch with me. Thanks for setting all this up. Pete was a daily part of my life for about 1/37 of it; everything I’m feeling must be magnified for you and your family.
Submitted by Erik Strohmeyer
Oh my brother Pete, where to begin. Lets start with a Happy Birthday, bitch. Generally, we would exchange very terrible birthday messages to each other and I would post one on here, but the idea isn’t to think any less of either of us.
With that being said, when we think of Pete on his birthday, remembering Pete as Pete and not your best friend who passed away is important, at least to me. None of us want to be sad anymore, but we all have to recognize that isn’t possible. So instead of being sad in a ”the world is over” way, I am going to remember Pete as I would expect that he would remember me. To bring humor and levity to a situation that otherwise just isn’t possible to do. When I get home tonight, I am going to go to 7/11 (no Wawa in California) and buy a 40 ounce of some terrible malt liquor (hopefully they have Hurricane or Mickey’s in stock) and pour one out for my homey. On your birthday, this drops for you Pete. Word.
Listening: Frank Turner – One Foot Before The Other
Submitted by Jonathan Everett
• A brilliant mind always looking for a challenge.
• Technical chops beyond anyone I know due in part to his curiosity of technical specifications that most people take for granted.
• An amazing storyteller that saw the world in a way to expose some fun or interesting fact that no one else would see.
• Long talks about philosophy and religion, I especially remember many talks about C.S. Lewis’ work. He also got me to read a bunch of books on pop phycology including “The Invisible Gorilla” which I really enjoyed.
• Flying remote-controlled helicopters at work and breaking a couple pieces of his best helicopter.
• Going as a team to Great Adventure Park to celebrate his birthday and it poured rain all day but we still considered getting a “fast pass” to beat the lines.
• Installing the security cameras at the Aikido Dojo using a remote-controlled tank to feed the wires through the duct work. It didn’t work out so well because we almost lost the tank in the duct work. We even caught someone on camera breaking into the Dojo and he gathered the information for the Police.
• After he bought a slow motion camera the first thing he wanted to test it out on was me slapping him in the face. It took 3 takes to get a good shot (thanks to Steve) and the last slap cupped his ear a bit which gave him a good ringing of the ears for a while.
• While our ideas on technical certifications differed from one another, he did have the “COOL” certificate in his email signature block for quite some time, which most of us found hilarious.
• After helping him move to his last apartment, Andrea him and I (I think there was someone else too – Dan?) went out for a good Chinese dinner. During a bathroom break that Pete took, I loaded his small hot cup of tea with as many packets of sugar as possible (supersaturated). When he came back he took a sip of the tea, Andrea started laughing uncontrollably and he thought that the tea “tasted like raisins”. Needless to say we had trouble finishing our meal being doubled-over from laughter.
• Pete always brought his personal computer into work which was a very helpful sandbox tool. I decided to pull a prank on him by scotch-taping the end of his network cable. He came back to his desk, got a call on his cell and needed to use his personal laptop. He sat there for a couple minutes diagnosing the problem with the network while I giggled in my cube. I eventually helped him out as he was getting a little frustrated. Don’t worry, he got me back soon thereafter and my mouse was having problems the next day. (Don’t worry since we didn’t smoke, these were our “smoke breaks.)
• After he received a call from an old girlfriend that he hadn’t heard from in a long time, I sent a prank text message to his cell from “her” which rustled his feathers a bit but was well worth it.
• We still have tons of test code that has “Pete is cool” or “Taffy is delicious” as the output.
• Pete decided to grow his hair out and got razzed from all of us. It got pretty long and he was trying to donate it but I guess it just wasn’t long enough.
• During a meeting at work, management asked if we had any questions. Pete asked inquisitively if there was any update on the mysterious hall pooper. He could keep a straight face, but when he was teasing he had a slight “tell” in his face that I learned over time.
• In the middle of one of his technical presentations, he explained the difference between east coast vs. west coast gang signs. It was completely off the wall and did a good job of waking everyone up for the last segment of his talk.
• I gave him a safe for Christmas without the key. I told him the actual present was inside and he was super excited for the challenge of picking the lock later that evening. He opened it without much issue and said it was a very thoughtful present.
• I miss Pete very much and have a deep sadness for the loss of my very close friend.
Submitted by Jason Camp
Pete almost never remembered my birthday. But he was usually kind of close, give or take a week or two. Sometime around 2005 or so, he decided to get organized, and started putting my birthday into his Outlook calendar. Except since he didn’t actually know when it was – and he wasn’t about to ask – he instead put a reminder on his calendar for a date that he suspected was sufficiently earlier than my birthday, and labeled it ”Rich’s Punkday.” For the next several years I would get e-mails entitled, ”Happy Punkday!” about three weeks before my actual birthday.
Happy birthday, buddy.
Submitted by Rich
Hey, little brother. I still miss you fiercely, but I think I might just come out of this ok after all. I love you.
Submitted by Karen Tibbetts
Pete was an integral part of our team at the Defense Logistics Agency.
Submitted by Jason Camp