Thomas Keith Peterson: 1952-2011

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Former Sentinel-News reporter was mentor

By Lisa King

Tom Peterson was considered in the journalism community not only a veteran reporter but also a person whom many colleagues considered a mentor. He died Nov. 11 at the age of 59.

“Tom was a tenacious reporter who was really dedicated to the pursuit of truth,” said Jack Brammer, a Shelbyville resident and reporter with  The Herald-Leader in Lexington who worked with Peterson in the 1970s at The Sentinel-News.

“Tom really did a lot for the paper; he put a lot more emphasis on hard news and investigative reporting.

“He was my mentor and a wonderful friend.”

Thomas Keith Peterson was born in Chicago and graduated from high school in Woodford County and from Murray State University. His career began in Shelbyville and later he joined The Wenz-Neely Company, a public relations firm in Louisville, as an account executive. He co-founded his own marketing firm, PRIDE, Inc., in 1980.

He was a columnist for the alternative newspaper LEO, contributed to Louisville Magazineand served as an executive-in-residence in marketing communication at the University of Louisville.

He was also active with various civic organizations in Louisville, and he and his wife, Laura, often helped out as coordinators The Associated Press Elections Service, gathering results on election days.

Duanne Puckett, public relations coordinator for Shelby County Schools and former editor of The Sentinel-News, described Peterson as a “hard-hitting news hound.”

“He was full of facts and made sure every statement was accurate, and he stood by his information,” she said.

“He was a wonderful person, too, and a lot of fun to work with. He loved life and was never without a smile.”

Brammer said that was how he would remember Peterson most as well.

“You could just never forget his smile,” he said. “I met Tom when he was twenty-four, and we eventually went our separate ways, but we never lost touch. We would call each other several times a year and just laugh at the memories.

“He wasn’t afraid to tell it the way it was. I know that many people will remember the way he had of bringing attention to significant issues in the community.”

Brammer chuckled as he recalled one incident in particular.

“I remember one time he caused an uproar when he wrote an article about somebody speeding in an emergency vehicle to go get a tuna sandwich,” he said. “That didn’t die down for quite a while.”