Left us on All Saints Day at the age of 88, in Palm Desert, California. Born in Modesto, Pete attended Modesto High School and Modesto Junior College (MJC), where he played basketball and earned an athletic scholarship to Pepperdine University in Los Angeles. After graduation he continued to play basketball for two more years after being drafted by the U.S. Army, where he also served as a shooting instructor.
In Modesto, Pete met the love of his life, Johanne “Jo” Caster, whom he married in 1955. Early in his career, Pete taught high school and coached in Pleasant Hill, Santa Cruz and Lodi. Accepting his dream job in 1961, the growing family moved back to Modesto where Pete taught and coached basketball at MJC. In 1969 Pete was recruited to Columbia Junior College where as the first athletic director he built the athletic program and coached basketball for several years. Pete reveled in helping his players advance in their college and athletic careers and stayed in touch with many of them for decades.
Following his retirement in 1992, Pete travelled to Norway and Spain to coach basketball with some of his favorite former players from MJC. His interests included WWII history, classic movies, jazz (especially Dave Brubeck), spirited debates, golf, college football, pheasant hunting, the Boston Celtics, traveling to Europe with Jo (especially Ireland), many loyal Labradors, bird watching, his cabin in Sunriver, Oregon, and the quest for the perfect martini.
Pete was a loving husband to Jo for 62 years. Jo was also an educator having taught at Jamestown Elementary School for 26 years. Pete will forever be remembered as a wonderful father to his four daughters.
Pete is survived by his wife Jo and daughters, Jolie Sellers (Marc), of Portland, Oregon, Erin Nicol (Mark), of Nashville, Tennessee, Brigid Martin (Jim), of Eagle, Idaho, and Deirdre Sullivan (Sandi), of Murphys. He is also survived by his grandchildren, Morgan and Blaire Sellers, Grant, Marie and Ross Nicol, Kyle and Jaime Martin; and a great-granddaughter due in January; his niece, Karen Ethier, of Sonora; and his nephew, Bill Sutton, of Flathead Lake, Montana.
A funeral mass will be held at 11 a.m. on Nov. 29 at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Palm Desert followed by an Irish wake at The Spring Country Club in Rancho Mirage.