Joseph James Peterson was a man of many names. Whether you knew him as Jamie, Joe, BBY, Robert, or Bobby, you knew him as a friend. A friend you could count on in good times and bad. A friend to go to for advice, to share a secret, or to shed a tear. Bobby was a friend who would give generously of his time and his energy for endeavors both big and small; who valued the importance of community; who loved his dogs and yours with equal ferocity; who always had a joke in his pocket, a debate on his mind, and a story to share; and who taught us all how to be better versions of ourselves.
Jamie was born in Beverly, Massachusetts where he grew up surrounded by strong women. He reminisced about his grandmother frequently, who helped raise an incredibly smart, funny, empathetic, and fiercely independent man. Joe and his family moved to Ashland, Massachusetts and attended Marian High School and then Framingham State College. He started working behind a bar as a teenager and while he pursued law school, he chose to use his talents to entertain the masses at busy resorts. Joe worked in Park City and at the White Elephant on Nantucket, but Bobby is best known for his years in Killington at the Wobbly Barn, Green Mountain National Golf Course, the Outback, and most recently, The Lookout.
There was no better ambassador for Killington than Bobby. He welcomed locals, newcomers, and weekenders like family. It was impossible not to be drawn in by his larger-than-life personality.
He had deep affection for Killington, not because he enjoyed winter, skiing or riding, but because he found a true home in the town that he affectionately dubbed the “Land of Misfit Toys.” If Killington was a circus, he was our ringleader. He rallied us round for the highs and the lows – golf tournaments, fundraisers, horse races, memorial services, catfish derbies, and a million other adventures. In moments of need, he was your first call, unless he had called you first. Behind the scenes or holding the mic, he raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for the causes near and dear to his heart – the Upper Valley and Rutland communities, pets and shelters, kids, and the national organizations doing research to prevent the diseases that afflicted those he loved.
Especially near and dear to his heart were his canine friends. Every pup that knew Bobby sniffed out the cookies that he always had in his pocket. His first pup, Lucy, forever changed him with her love. Lucy was joined by Brandy and now Bella Boo along with most recently adopted feline friends, Willow and Nosie Rosie. He and his pups were often found snowshoeing, hiking in the woods or lounging by the river. Always wanting the best for his “girls,” he spent hours researching the best food and even making his own treats. Aside from his immediate clan, there were many other puppies for whom the “not my dog” rule did not apply.
We also know that Bobby’s wit was unmatched. There was little chance of ever winning a debate with him. He loved a good argument and even if he agreed with you, he might take the opposing side just for the sport of it. Debate was his love language, and while politics was a favorite subject, it was never as much about the topic or any particular view, he really just wanted to hear what you had to say. He showed us that it was fine to argue, and if you were going to argue to do it long and hard about the stupid stuff, but that we should always agree about the things that mattered most.
It cannot go without saying that Bobby was a teacher and a mentor. He trained a generation of bartenders, servers, bar backs, door staff, managers, golf professionals, and more. He taught us to be technically competent, professional and meticulous; he reminded us that the details are everything. If his expectations of us were high, his expectations of himself were even higher. And we were determined to live up to them, to earn his approval. More importantly though, he taught us to be better friends, better humans. Everyone who met him felt recognized by him; he showed us how to appreciate each other.
Bobby passed unexpectedly on the evening of Friday, Feb. 12, with his best friend and loved one of 12 years by his side.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Lucy MacKenzie Humane Society or Rutland County Humane Society. A celebration of his life will be held when pandemic restrictions allow for an in person gathering. Bobby will be missed by all who knew him. He may not have travelled often, but his orbit was vast. Joseph James Peterson meant something different to each person in his life, but we all called him a friend. His love, compassion, and good humor will live on in a million different Bobby stories. When you share them, please remember that our friend would never let the truth get in the way of a good story.
An online guest book can be found at cabotfh.com.