Cover photo for Gary A. Petersen, Sr.'s Obituary
Gary A. Petersen, Sr. Profile Photo

Gary A. Petersen, Sr.

June 7, 1950 — February 14, 2024

Beaufort, SC

Gary A. Petersen, Sr.

Gary A. Petersen, Sr. of Beaufort, SC passed away peacefully on February 14, 2024, after a long battle with COPD and a short battle with cancer.

Gary was born June 7, 1950, to James Allen and Vera Harris Petersen in Salt Lake City, Utah. Upon his graduation from Highland High School, Gary joined the United States Marine Corps in 1969. In 1971, he joined the 2nd Marine Division Band of Camp Lejune, NC as a trombonist. He graduated from the Armed Forces School of Music in Little Creek, VA in 1973. He was assigned to bands in El Toro, CA, Okinawa, Japan, and Marine Corps Recruit Depot, Parris Island, SC. In January of 1983, Gary won the position of the Drum Major in “The Commandant’s Own” US Marine Drum and Bugle Corps. In April of 1983, he welcomed his son, Gary A Petersen, Jr. with his wife Christine Amsler Petersen while living in Annapolis, Maryland. In 1985, Gary won the audition to become the Drum Major for “The President’s Own,” directing the band in ceremonial commitments, including inaugurations, and performing for Heads of State and international dignitaries at the White House. Gary is the second person in Marine Corps history to have held the position of Drum Major for both the United States Marine Band and the United States Marine Drum and Bugle Corps, both units located in Washington, DC. He served under Presidents Ronald Reagan and George Bush. Gary retired from the Marine Corps in 1992 and moved to Charleston, SC where he open a Blimpie Subs and Salad shop. He returned to Beaufort, SC where he co-owned Auto Transmission Center of Beaufort with his brother in-law, Phil Amsler. In 2004, Gary welcomed his beloved granddaughter, Kaitlin Grace Petersen. Gary was a life member of the AmVets Post 70 Beaufort, SC and a life member of the VFW Post 8760 Beaufort, SC. He loved his Harleys, karaoke, and discussing politics. He also enjoyed watching the Clemson Tigers football games. 

Gary was predeceased in death by his parents; brothers, Kenny Petersen of Georgia and Jimmy Petersen of Arizona; and one nephew, Bret Petersen. Gary is survived by his son, Gary Petersen, Jr and his wife, Melissa; and his granddaughter, Kaitlin Petersen. He is also survived by his sister, Raquel Tribbey and her husband, Earl of Peoria, Arizona; his nieces, Paige Sprietsma and her husband Charlie, and Jennifer Talbert and her husband, Brad. He is also survived by his nephews, Jacob Tribbey, Zach Tribbey, Justin Tribbey, Val Petersen, Jeff Petersen, and Martin Petersen. 

The family would like to thank Lutheran Hospice, especially Nurse Rita Maxwell, AmVets Post 70 and the Ladies Auxiliary, Commander and Chaplin, Charles (Chuck) Blankin, and Bob Parks of J. Henry Stuhr. The family would also like to give a special thank you to Karl and Lucy Roberts who were wonderful, caring, and compassionate friends of Gary’s. 

A graveside service will be held Friday February 23rd, 2024, at 10:00 am at the National Cemetery in Beaufort, SC with a celebration of life to follow at AmVets Post 70 Beaufort. 

Arrangements by J. Henry Stuhr, Inc. West Ashley Chapel.

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