Nick ‘Pete’ David Peters

Date that Molalla Pioneer published this to the Web: 5/8/2007

Nick David Peters, 20, died May 1, 2007, due to injuries sustained in a car accident in Casa Grande, Ariz.

He was born in Oregon City on June 16, 1986, and had lived in Molalla until recently when he moved to Arizona to live with his sister. He attended school in Molalla and graduated in 2004 from Molalla High School where he lettered all four years in wrestling and was Molalla District champion his sophomore year. His wrestling career was cut short by a mat injury in February 2004.

He was involved in Peewee Rodeo and baseball. He also enjoyed playing the guitar. He had recently received a letter of congratulations from Clackamas Community College for completion of his transfer degree.

He worked two years as merchandiser at Coca-Cola. Previously, he worked for Torry L. Collins Excavation and as a salesman for Cutco Cutlery. He also worked periodically for the Critter Nanny.

He is survived by his parents, Richard and Kim Peters of Molalla; a sister, Stefani Peters of Casa Grande, Ariz.; grandparents, Lorraine Peters of Molalla, Dr. Dennis Stefani of Great Falls, Mont., and Mary Ann of Orofino, Idaho; great-grandparents, Eugene and Dorothy Stefani of Great Falls, Mont., and many aunts, uncles, cousins and friends.

He was preceded in death by his grandfather, Jack (Papa) Peters.

A Celebration of Life service will be held at 3 p.m. Friday, May 11, at the Molalla Church of the Nazarene A Catholic service will be held at 2 p.m. Wednesday, May 9, at St. James Catholic Church in Molalla with burial at Russellville Cemetery.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made at the US Bank, Molalla for the Molalla High School Wrestling Program. Arrangements by Molalla Funeral Chapel.

Nick Peters leaves a legacy of friendship and inspiration

Story by: Abby Sewell.  Molalla Pioneer published this to the Web: 5/7/2007

A Molalla High School graduate and former wrestling star, Nick Peters, who died on Tuesday, will leave a legacy for future generations of high school athletes.

On Tuesday night, 20-year-old Peters died in Casa Grande, Ariz. after being struck by a car while he was on foot.

Full details of the incident were not available, but according to his grandmother Lorraine Peters of Molalla, the driver of the car did not flee the scene but remained with Nick until a LifeFlight helicopter arrived. However, he died before reaching the hospital, due to injuries sustained in the crash.

Within a day, Lorraine said, the word had spread among his many friends in Molalla via phone calls, e-mails and text messages, so much that her answering machine was filled to its limit with condolences.

“Nick had a lot of friends and he was very active,” she said. “He was very well liked and you can see that with the messages people left.”

Nick’s interests ranged from writing to snowboarding and from playing the guitar to wrestling, she said — but especially wrestling. He wrestled every year from sixth grade until his senior year in high school, when a broken jaw ended his career.

MHS wrestling coach Mike Campbell recalled Nick as a good team player, a leader by example who had a humorous side but also knew when it was time to buckle down and work. “He was one of those kids who not only worked at it during the season but after the season was over,” Campbell said. “Even when he got injured his senior year, he continued to come back and support his team.”

The broken jaw dashed Nick’s hopes of winning the state championship in 2004, but his best friend Kody Merris went on to win a district title that year. Kody’s mother Jan Merris recalled that after wining the title, Kody told Nick, “I won it in your honor.” Jan was thinking of that moment, and of the close bond among all the high school wrestlers and their parents when she decided to create a lasting legacy for Nick, one that would benefit the new generation of student athletes in Molalla.

So she marched down to U.S. Bank in Molalla and set up an account in the name of the Nick Peters Wrestling Fund, where well-wishers of the Peters family can donate money to benefit the Molalla High School wrestling team. “I thought it would just be a nice gesture, because the bond was so strong with all the wrestlers and the parents,” she said. “We all spent every weekend sitting together in those sweaty gyms.”

A memorial plaque will also be engraved in Nick’s honor and placed in the high school trophy case. Campbell said he will discuss with Nick’s family how to best to spend whatever money comes to the team through the memorial fund.

“It’s very nice,” he said of the fund. “It’s flattering in a lot of ways. Nick’s only sport he did in high school was wrestling and he had a lot of feelings toward it. And since he graduated, I kept in touch with the family.” Nick’s circle of friends extended beyond wrestlers, however. Classmate Matt Cheney recalled that Nick was the first friend he made when he moved to Molalla in the second grade and they remained close through high school. “(Nick) was a jokester — he could make anyone laugh,” he said. “No matter if you were in a bad mood, he was always there when you needed him.”

After graduating from MHS, Nick moved to Oregon City with Kody Merris, where Nick attended Clackamas Community College.

Looking for a change in scenery, Peters moved to Arizona about a month ago to join his younger sister Stefani, who was going to community college in Casa Grande. But he missed his home town, his friends and family, Lorraine said. “He just called a week ago to say he wanted to come back and go to Portland State University,” she said, where he planned to study screenwriting.

Nick had been planning to head back to Oregon for Kody’s wedding on May 13. Instead, Kody, who is currently stationed with the Marines at Camp Pendleton in San Diego, Calif., will be rushing home sooner than expected to attend his friend’s memorial.

As of press time, Nick’s mother and sister were driving back from Arizona and could not be reached for comment.

Two memorial services are scheduled for this week: a Catholic service will be held on Wednesday, May 9 at 2 p.m. at St. James Catholic Church, and a Celebration of Life service is slated for Friday, May 11 at 3 p.m. at the Molalla Nazarene Church.

The family is requesting that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to the Nick Peters Wrestling Fund at U.S. Bank in Molalla.

Published to Web The Molalla Pioneer: on 3/12/2009

Nick Peters’ enthusiasm keeps wrestling team in winning spirit

Story by: Bethany Monroe.  The Molalla Pioneer published this to Web: 3/12/2008

 Molalla High School wrestlers had the tools they needed to be in top shape this season, thanks to a fund in honor of former wrestler and 2004 MHS graduate Nick Peters.

Nick died last May after being run over by a car in Casa Grande, Arizona.

Authorities in Casa Grande are still investigating the case, as some evidence indicates that he may have been hit by two cars, the first leaving him wounded on the road.

“It’s one of those life tragedies,” MHS wrestling coach Mike Campbell said. “He had a lot he wanted to accomplish and he wanted to do, but he just didn’t get to. He’s one of those kids you’re just always going to remember because he was always doing good things for his friends and family.”

The fund raised $3,000 in honor of Nick and allowed the wrestling team to purchase two stationary bikes and an elliptical machine to keep injured wrestlers in shape, Campbell said.

Some of the money also purchased jump ropes, medicine balls and weights to help wrestlers improve their core strength and outlast their opponents.

“That really worked out great because one of the things Nick always did when he as a wrestler was he was always in really good shape,” Campbell said. “Our wrestlers have a better edge if we do this core program.”

After introducing the core fitness program, Campbell said he heard comments from other coaches about his wrestlers being in excellent condition.

“I think we had one of our better seasons this year,” Campbell said. “We could see when our kids went out that they could wrestle longer and harder. That was a great part of getting ourselves ready was having that extra fund.”

Part of the fund also helped purchase digital video recording equipment used by longtime wrestling team supporter Don Taylor to record the wrestlers’ matches and practices so that they could analyze their performance.

“I’ve been videotaping with an old-style VHS since ‘89,” Taylor said.

Nick’s initials are inscribed on the new camera. The digital equipment was a fitting purchase in memory of Nick, who had hoped to attend Portland State University last fall to study screenwriting and media, said Kim Peters, Nick’s mother.

About $900 remains in the fund, Peters said. She is open to suggestions on how to use the money, but is considering putting it toward more digital equipment for the team.

The memorial fund was organized by Jan Merris, whose son, Kody, was one of Nick’s longtime friends and wrestling buddies.

“That was the only sport either of them ever went out for in high school,” Jan Merris said. “Wrestling was their number one thing together. That was their bond. It really enriched their lives.”

Peters is thankful for Merris’ efforts to honor her son’s life.

“We were still in the mortuary picking out Nick’s casket when the phone rang and Jan said she had set (the fund) up,” Kim Peters said. “As a mother who has lost a child, you don’t want your child forgotten. It just means the world to us.”

Nick and Kody had wrestled together since grade school. His senior year, Nick broke his jaw shortly before the district meet. He had beaten every wrestler in his weight category and was a likely candidate to win the state championship, Campbell said.

“When he broke his jaw, it was devastating to him to not be able to wrestle anymore,” Peters said.

Still, Nick cheered on his teammates. His friend Kody went on to place fourth at state.

“(Nick) was the one who was there every day, supporting his teammates,” Campbell said. “One of the great things about Nick was he was always trying to get everybody to do their best.”

Although tough on the wrestling mat, Nick was known for making his teammates laugh.

“Sometimes wrestling can be hard and he would make it more fun,” Kody Merris said. “He would bring laughter onto the mats.”

Nick started an inside joke among the wrestlers known by the team as the “thumbs up game” — a tradition MHS wrestlers continued at this year’s state tournament, Campbell said.

“It’s one of those things that got the kids a little bit closer together and they thought it was fun and funny,” Campbell said. “He was always doing things to bring the team up.”

Campbell recruited one of his former wrestlers, Andy Williams, to design a patch in honor of Nick.

“We have given them out to the kids who remember him or know him,” Campbell said. “We want to just always keep him in our minds and hearts.”

Williams’ design featured a sketch of Nick, grinning and giving his signature “thumbs up” sign.

“Campbell wanted him to be shown with the ‘thumbs up’ because he was always a tough, happy guy. It’s one of those kind of metaphoric things,” Williams said.

Williams graduated four years ahead of Nick, so the two were not teammates, but Nick knew that Williams had placed fourth in state and considered him a role model, Campbell said.

“I found out that he looked up to me because I was a serious wrestler and I thought that was great,” Williams said.

At the time of his death, Peters was living in Arizona with his sister, Stefani Merris. He planned to move back to his parents’ Molalla home to study media at Portland State University.

“He called me the day he died and he said, ‘Mom, I’m going to be there by Mother’s Day,’” Peters said.

Before moving to Arizona, Nick had rented an apartment with Kody Merris while earning his associates degree at Clackamas Community College and working for Coca Cola. Merris joined the Marines and is now stationed in San Diego.

“His sister called me the night that (the accident) happened and I was pretty much in disbelief,” Kody Merris said. “I came home and went to his funeral and I think the following weekend was my wedding. He was supposed to be my best man.”

Kody’s wife gave birth to a son last September and the couple named him Nicholas in honor of Nick.

Last Memorial Day, less than a month after Nick’s death, the Peters family organized a hike to Table Rock as a remembrance to Nick. They plan to do the hike again this coming Memorial Day.

“When I feel really ripped off and am sad that his life was cut short, I remind myself that Nick lived a full lifetime,” Peters said. “He touched a lot of people.”