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Published: Tuesday, 3/16/2010

Accountant had to disarm bombs in war

BY JIM SIELICKI
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Ernest Peters, 83, a World War II bomb-demolition expert who went on to a career as an accountant, died in his sleep Thursday at the Toledo home he shared with a daughter.

Mr. Peters, who was born Nov. 26, 1926, changed his name from Pietrykowski because of the perceived discrimination the longer name might carry, his son Jeffrey Peters said.

He graduated from Macomber Vocational High School in 1944 and enlisted in the Army, which sent him to Athens, Ohio, to learn how to defuse explosives.

"In his training, he was taught how to defuse Japanese bombs and land mines, but when he got over there, he was defusing American bombs," Jim Peters, another son, said.

Jim and Jeffrey Peters related that their father initially was conservative in his work, but later became "pretty reckless afterwards" by loading bombs on Jeeps and then ordering the driver to "drive real fast and just chuck them into a hole" to explode.

Jim Peters said his father explained that bomb disposal workers often would be lowered by rope into craters to defuse explosives.

"He said there was only one way out if you made a mistake," Jim Peters said.

Mr. Peters played guard on his high school basketball teams, his first year at Libbey High School, and later at Macomber, where he was a member of the 1943 city championship team, said his daughter Michelle Calhoun.

He learned to golf while caddying at the Inverness Club, and liked to brag that he once caddied for golf greats Ben Hogan and Byron Nelson. He continued golfing long after he retired, mostly at Valleywood Country Club, Mrs. Calhoun said.

He married Emilie Six on June 10, 1950, and together they raised nine children.

As an accountant, he worked for many employers, ending with the Toledo Area Metropolitan Council of Governments, before moving to Boca Raton, Fla., in 1984.

"He said that every time he had another baby, he had to get a raise to support them, so he would change jobs," Jeffrey Peters said. "He was proud of that, because it worked."

While living in Florida, Mr. Peters was assistant finance director for the city of Lauderhill until retiring in 1994. "He went to Florida because his wife was interested in living somewhere where it was warm," Mrs. Calhoun said.

His wife died in 2003, and a year later Mr. Peters moved back to Toledo to live with his daughter Mary Peters.

Mr. Peters remained active in Toledo and kept a steady schedule of visiting his children and dining out with them at specific restaurants on specific days, Mrs. Calhoun said. He retained a sharp mind up to the time of his death.

"We would always do something with him almost every day," she said.

Mary Peters' house became known as the "soup kitchen" because she served his favorite soup for lunch.

"He had Campbell chicken noodle soup for lunch. Always," Mrs. Calhoun said.

It was after their last lunch together Thursday when Mr. Peters took a nap and never awoke.

"Just a couple of days before he told [our brother] Bill that 'I had done everything in my life that I wanted to.' He was at peace," Jeffrey Peters said.

He is survived by sons Thomas, James, Jeffrey, William, John, and Robert, daughters Joan Stowell, Mary Peters, and Michelle Calhoun, 19 grandchildren, and four great-grandchildren.

Services are scheduled for 9:30 a.m. today at Sujkowski Funeral Home Northpointe, 128 East Alexis Rd., and continue with a 10 a.m. funeral Mass at Regina Coeli Catholic Church.

The family suggests memorials to Regina Coeli Catholic Church.

Contact: Jim Sielicki at:

jsielicki@theblade.com

or 419-724-6050.



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