Ronald Edwin Peterson was born in Berkeley, CA on April 20, 1947 to Edwin and Edith Peterson. Growing up he enjoyed playing sports with his many friends and being a loving older brother to his sisters Susan and Carolyn. He and his family were regulars at Lakeside Baptist Church in Oakland, CA. He eventually attended Pacific High School in San Leandro with his lifelong best friend Fred Grove, where he starred on the basketball team. After high school he continued his schooling and basketball career at Chabot Junior College in Hayward, CA. Humboldt State was his next stop, where he enrolled as a double major in History and Physical Education and finished out his basketball career.
As his college years came to a close, Ron decided that his calling in life was to educate, mentor, and mold young people as a high school teacher and coach. In 1969, he was hired by Riverbank High School at the age of 22. During his first year at RHS, a friend set him up on a blind date with a beautiful young nurse named Rose Ann Schmidt. Ron and Rose Ann fell in love and were married on August 29, 1970. In 1976, Ron and Rose Ann bought a home in Riverbank where they would raise their two sons, Kirk (born in 1973), and Todd (born in 1977). Over the years, Ron’s mom, his two sisters, and their families would all move within a couple blocks of him and many good times were had with “Uncle Ronnie.” As a family they would attend Modesto Covenant Church where Ron and Rose Ann would serve as Sunday School teachers and Ron would eventually serve on the Board of Elders. For 16 years, Ron would call RHS home, sharing his love of history with his students and building the basketball program into a small school power. The Bruins won 5 TVL championships in his last eight years to go along with numerous playoff appearances.
In 1985, Ron decided to take on a new challenge, accepting a position as history teacher/head basketball coach at Turlock High School. He quickly began following the same blueprint that had led to so much success at RHS, starting up the Turlock Youth Basketball League and running a summer youth basketball camp to help young people in the community develop their skills and fall in love with the game. His time at THS was highlighted by numerous playoff appearances including a near upset of #5 nationally ranked Jesuit HS at Arco Arena as well as an invitation to the prestigious “Las Vegas Holiday Classic” basketball tournament. In 1996 he stepped down from his position as head coach but the respect and experience that he garnered led to many other basketball related opportunities, including a brief stint as an assistant at CSU Stanislaus, and taking a group of young athletes to China to compete and promote friendship and understanding between cultures.
In 2005, Ron retired after spending 36 years as a teacher and coach. His post retirement days would be spent going on trips with Rose Ann, relaxing at the family cabin in Arnold, and being the best grandpa ever to the new loves of his life, his grandkids (Paige, Avery, Mia, Huck, and Lily Peterson). In 2011 he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease. As years went on, things became more challenging for Ron, but he continually inspired those around him with his courage and resiliency. Always one to look for new ways to help others and contribute, Ron was instrumental in establishing “The Bridge” Covenant Church and also spent two terms as a member of the Riverbank School Board. During his time on the school board, Ron was a driving force in the passing of “Measure R” which led to the building of a new elementary school, a science lab for the junior high, and something that was near and dear to his heart, a brand-new gymnasium for Riverbank High School.
On December 21, 2022 Ron passed away peacefully at his home of nearly 50 years surrounded by family members encouraging him, singing songs, reading scripture, and telling stories. He touched countless lives during his 75 years on this Earth and will never be forgotten by those that knew and loved him. His legacy is a man who loved God and put his energy into helping, comforting, and supporting others. His example as a loving husband to Rose Ann for 52 years and an amazing father were an inspiration to those who knew him and looked up to him.
Ron is survived by his wife Rose Ann, his sons Kirk (Kim) of Turlock, Todd (Holly) of San Luis Obispo, and his sister Susan Taylor of Riverbank. He was preceded in death by his parents Edwin and Edith, and his sister Carolyn Searway of Riverbank.
A Celebration of Life is scheduled for 2 p.m. on Thursday, January 26 at Modesto Covenant Church, 913 Floyd Avenue in Modesto. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to support two new college scholarships being set up at Riverbank High School and Turlock High School in Ron’s name. Please contact Kirk Peterson for more information regarding donations.
The Oakdale (Calif.) Leader
The Riverbank (Calif.) News
Jan. 11, 2023