BURLINGTON - Dr. Barrett Peterson, 58, paddled onward the evening of July 4, 2018, surrounded by family and friends, after facing down stiff winds in a three-and-a-half-year battle with a rare cancer, Pseudomyxoma Peritonei (PMP).
Barrett's camaraderie was born growing up with his two brothers in Montpelier, competing at everything rough and tumble, from hockey to skiing to extreme sledding. Summers were spent camping and fishing with the extended Sessions clan in the backwoods of Algonquin Park. Barrett met Mary, the only bow woman who could match his strong strokes from the stern, at St. Lawrence University in 1980, where they built lifelong SLU friendships. Barrett majored in chemistry, sang with the Singing Saints, engaged in Phi Kap escapades, and had a defining experience abroad in Kenya, footsteps that all four of his children followed.
Barrett and Mary were married shortly after their graduation from St. Lawrence. In their 36 years of marriage, they thrived on adventure, exploring the outermost edges of Algonquin with legendary grace and speed. Four kids followed, and the "PTeam" sixsome packed in a single canoe on long summer trips and skated in Ottawa before long Nordic ski and sled treks to the Smoke Lake cabin in winter.
In Vermont, Barrett passed on his love of alpine and telemark skiing, a cloud of powder marking family runs in the woods. Barrett and Mary brought boundless love, humor and strength to their marriage, building an amazing partnership from the Algonquin trails, to the Green Mountains, to their streak of color and laughter tearing up the dance floor.
Barrett found his calling at Tufts School of Dental Medicine, where he completed dental school and an orthodontic residency. Upon graduating, Barrett enthusiastically joined Champlain Orthodontics in Vermont, forging bonds with his partners, staff, patients young and old, and his tight brethren of fellow dentists. He was enormously proud when some of the PTeam, shepherded by COA and local dentists, showed the same passion for the dental profession.
Barrett's life was marked by exuberance, whether it was hooting down first tracks on Jay Peak Ski Patrol, or insisting on pushing ever farther into the Algonquin wilds for speckled trout or bragging rights with the winter band of merry men. Summer always brought Big Dog bike rides; winter, a trip to the Western ridgelines and games with Taylor Hockey or on Barrett's signature backyard rinks.
Barrett's building was legendary: no less than 17 post-and-beam barn raisings; fireplaces of epic proportions; a cedar canvas canoe for each of the four kids upon college graduation and a fifth for Mary; and a hand-rendered wood memento to mark every occasion with kin and playfellows, from bowls, to serving platters, to Adirondack chairs, and everything in between.
Always harboring a bit of the renaissance, Barrett also was famous for his beekeeping, waterskiing, Volvo refurbishing, marathon running, dog whispering, pizza on the grill and pie making. Up early pounding nails, and then late enjoying shooting stars, Barrett wasted no moment of his too-short life.
Barrett is survived by his wife, Mary; his children Haley (and Gary), Conor (and Tai), Addie and Emmett. He also leaves his mother, Jean Peterson; and brothers Eric (and Cheryl) and Matt (and Aimee); along with a large extended family of in-laws, cousins, nieces and nephews. He was predeceased by his father, Chuck.
The Peterson family cannot thank everyone enough who shared this long journey with us, from incredibly gifted doctors and nurses, to the teams from all walks of our life who stopped in Burlington to share stories, hugs, a meal, more often than not a chore or two. It has meant the world to us.
We will be having a celebration of Barrett's life on the 21st night of September in the Lake Champlain Islands. The following day will be a fun day of races, BBQ and dancing to raise money for a PMP cure. In the meantime, donations can be made toward a private patient room in Barrett's name at the University of Vermont Medical Center (UVMMC Foundation Miller Building Campaign at https://www.uvmhealth.org/medcenter/pages/about-uvm-medical-center/foundation/areas-to-support/miller-building.aspx
or Given N-300, 89 Beaumont Ave., Burlington, VT 05401 Attn: Yael Friedman); or to support the transformational East African experiences provided to students from various colleges through St. Lawrence University's Kenya Semester Program (see https://www.stlawu.edu/ciis/kenya
; donations at https://www.stlawu.edu/giving
or St. Lawrence University KSP Program, University Advancement, Vilas Hall, 23 Romoda Drive, Canton, NY 13617, Attn: Prof. Matthew Caroteno). Here We Go Saints! Au Large!