Former R.H. Peterson president Bill White dies

Led and developed the hearth and grill company more than 30 years

Bill White, who led Robert H. Peterson Company for more than 30 years, died Saturday, Oct. 16. Memorial services will be held on Monday, Oct. 25 at the Glenkirk Presbyterian Church in Glendora, Calif.

White was remembered this week as a pioneer in the development and manufacturing of high-quality fireplace and grill products that add value, beauty and efficiency in homes nationwide and internationally.

"Our successes are due in large part to Bill's direction and leadership," said Leslie Bortz, president of Peterson. "Employees always welcomed his visits, as his kind and wise demeanor was respected. He took the time to ask questions and get to know people, as well as keeping in touch with R.H. Peterson friends in a caring way. Bill was respected by his peers and members of several civic organizations alike. He had a work ethic, dedication and integrity that portrayed his positive approach to team leading at R.H. Peterson Co. In his own words, he encouraged us to use ‘trust, honesty and compassion' within our organization and with our customers."

In three decades as president, he led the development of R.H. Peterson from a small one product firm in a 17,000-sq.-ft. building in Pasadena to become a significant multi-product part of the hearth and barbeque grills industries. "He was instrumental in each of our acquisitions and new product ventures, while always caring deeply about his customers and his employees," Bortz said. "His instincts on people, products, marketing and how to harmoniously run a growing business were invariably on the mark. He taught me an awful lot about how to treat customers, lead employees and captain the ship. His advice and counsel continued to make significant contributions to the Peterson Company up until very recently."

In addition to his role in the growth and development of R.H. Peterson, White authored books on Santa Catalina Island, where he grew up, and on the Wrigley family that originally owned the island. He was active in local politics and civic organizations. He previously served as president of the Crown City Kiwanis Club of Pasadena, and as president of the Industry Manufacturers Council in City of Industry, Calif.

During World War II, White served in the U.S. Navy fleet and received nine campaign ribbons and four battle stars. He was married for more than 50 years to his Pasadena neighborhood sweetheart, Martha. Surviving are his daughter Kim, sons Scott and Taylor, and four grandchildren.

Peterson Senior Vice President and lifelong friend Tod Corrin described White as a wonderful, caring friend who was loved by many. "I will remember many of his thoughtful ideas, actions and warm concerns, and will personally miss him," Corrin said.

Condolences may be sent to the White family home at 535 Willow Springs Lane, Glendora, CA 91741.

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