When Tom Peterson first began his career as a city hall reporter in San Diego, he decided he liked what the people in city government were doing. After working in city government for two years in San Diego, Peterson relocated to Lodi, where he served two stints with the city of Lodi. He believes in helping people make things happen.
"When you can sit back and view accomplishments of the city and know you helped, that is very fulfilling," he said.
For his contributions to government, Peterson was chosen as an inductee to the Lodi Community Hall of Fame.
Peterson first came to Lodi in 1964 and served as assistant city manager. During that time, the biggest projects he was involved with included the completion of the public safety building and the sewage treatment plant at Whiteslough.
Jerry Glenn, a former co-worker of Peterson, describes him as honest, dedicated and loyal. His biggest contribution to Lodi was his stability, he said. He feels Peterson's leadership was steady and he kept everything above-board.
"I think every city in the state of California would be glad to have a Tom Peterson as a city manager," he said.
In 1973, Peterson went to work as the city manager in the city of Woodland before returning to Lodi as the city manager in 1985. He then helped with the Downtown revitalization, where he played a prominent role in hiring Michael Freeman to develop the plan. He also helped preserve the train station by relocating it to the other side of Pine Street. And, he played a part in the revitalization of Hutchins Street Square. His motivation was to have a fulfilling career, but at the same time he really wanted to give back to the community.
"As much as I could, I've always been a community booster," he said.
Through the years, Peterson has been a committee member of the Lodi District Chamber of Commerce, the Lodi Leadership Program and the International City Management Association, and was also a past president of the Lodi Junior Chamber of Commerce. He has also served as past president of both the Lodi Tokay Rotary Club and the Kiwanis Club. Following his retirement in 1995, he volunteered as an advisor for other city managers through the League of California Cities.
Peterson feels rewarded by having the opportunity to help people in Lodi achieve the goals the community has set for itself. He sees no hesitation of the people of Lodi when it comes to jumping in and taking on tasks for the common good.
"I've always liked that and admire the community for that. To be a part of that is very nice," he said.
Peterson was born and raised in New Jersey. He graduated with a bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of California, Berkeley in 1955 and then served in the U.S. Navy during World War II. He married Jean in 1962, and they had three children and five grandchildren.
Don Kundert, a friend who nominated Peterson, said he is a quiet man who just does his work and doesn't expect a lot of praise.
"He is deserving of this award because, through his efforts and knowledge, he has made the community a better place to live," he said.
Other inductees this year include Mark Armstrong, who has managed the Lodi Grape Festival for 18 years, for his contributions to agriculture; Michael Stokes, the owner and operator of Stokes Brothers Farms who has played an active role in agricultural groups, as a rising star; Sally Snyde, who serves as the president of the board of the World of Wonders Science Museum and led the effort in opening the museum, for her contributions to community service; Robert Gross, who performs with and served as music director for the Lodi Community Band and served on the board for the Lodi Community Concert Association, for his contributions to the arts; and Elmer Kludt, who helped establish the Boosters of Boys and Girls Sports Organization and was active with the local Salvation Army, where he served on the board of directors for many years. He was nominated posthumously by Junelle Osterlie for his contributions to community service.
The Hall of Fame is sponsored by the Lodi Boys and Girls Club. Inductees will be honored at a dinner and program scheduled for Nov. 5 at the Boys and Girls Club headquarters, 275 Poplar St., near the corner of Stockton St. Cost to attend is $45. To make reservations, call the club at 334-2697.