Peterson, M.D., Wesley L.
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Sep. 5, 1923 - Apr. 26, 2014
Dr. Wesley "Wes" Peterson, a respected pillar of the Sarasota medical profession, world traveler and pilot, who shared his love of travel and adventure with his family, passed away peacefully with loved ones at his side, April 26. He was 90 years old.
Wes was born Sept. 5, 1923, in Chicago, IL. He attended medical school at Northwestern University, graduating in 1948. While completing his residency from 1948 to 1950 at Hines Veterans Hospital, Wes met Joan M. Cook, who would become his wife of 64 years.
Wes served in the U.S. Air Force as a Captain, rising to Chief of Medicine at Frances E. Warren Air Force Base before leaving the military and moving to Sarasota in 1954 with Joan to start a private practice in Internal Medicine. He was the 29th M.D. in Sarasota County at a time when Sarasota Memorial Hospital only had 50 beds.
With Joan at his side Wes built his career and raised his three sons - Andrew, Guy and Matthew - in Sarasota.
Practicing medicine in Sarasota from 1954-1993, Wesley rose to the pinnacle of the area medical profession. Board Certified in Internal Medicine, he was Chief of Staff at Sarasota Memorial Hospital from 1960-1961, and consultant to the State of Florida Vocational Rehabilitation program from 1956-2004. He retired from private practice in 1993 and served briefly as acting Medical Director of Hospice of Southwest Florida in 1994.
The scrupulous discipline and work ethic that guided Wes' success as a doctor echoed into other aspects of his life, including his passion for SCUBA diving and, most notably, for flying - he held an instrument rating and owned several aircraft over the years. Wes's work ethic also drove his fitness regimen - he was an early riser, starting off his days for years with a daily mile swim and six-mile run. He was able to bench press more than 200 pounds at age 80.
Despite his personal devotion to medicine and his hobbies, Wes shared his passion for travel and adventure with his family. He traveled the world on spectacular trips with Joan, such as visiting the North Pole in a Russian icebreaker, safaris in Africa, SCUBA diving the Red Sea, touring the stone ruins of Petra, Jordan and the monuments of Egypt. Wes took his three sons on SCUBA trips in the Caribbean, flew them down to Ocean Reef Club in Key Largo for a hamburger, and took them skiing in the U.S. and Canada. Later in life, he would take his grandchildren up in his plane at Christmas to look for Santa Claus.
Wesley is a man who never put his own desires above his obligations to his family, his profession or his patients. The discipline and work ethic Wes applied to every aspect of his life led to one well lived, which will always be remembered with gratitude and affection by his family and the many people he inspired along the way.
Wes is survived by his wife, Joan whose unselfish care for him gave him great peace and comfort; three sons, Andrew (Jessica), Guy (Cynthia) and Matthew - all of Sarasota; five grandchildren, Amy Nation, Michael Peterson, Nolan Peterson, Drew Peterson and Danielle Peterson; and two great-grandchildren, Katie and Tucker Nation.
Family and friends are invited to a gathering to celebrate Wesley's life - 4 p.m. to 6 p.m., Saturday May 31, at the Field Club, 1400 Field Road, Sarasota.
In lieu of flowers the family requests donations be made to Tidewell Hospice of Southwest Florida. Toale Brothers Funeral Homes in charge of arrangements.
Published in Herald Tribune from May 11 to May 19, 2014