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Life Story / Obituary
In the fall of 1966, James and Joyce Peterson of Detroit, Michigan, were eagerly anticipating the arrival of their third child. On November 23, 1966, their wait ended. Gregory James arrived early, while his father was out of town, so quickly that a family friend/neighbor helped deliver Greg on the living room floor. Shortly after arriving at the hospital, his parents found out Greg had Down Syndrome and were told that Greg would only live for about a year. With love and determination, they welcomed Greg into their hearts and home.
Defying the odds, Greg did survive well past his first birthday. His parents provided him with the same opportunities as his two older sisters, Karole and Pam. Though Greg had delayed motor skills, he started school at the age of three, and continued his schooling for over 20 years. Greg loved to swim, and took swimming lessons and enjoyed summer days swimming in pools and at Pontiac Yacht Club with his family. Greg enjoyed swimming so much that he was able to not only participate in, but win medals at the Special Olympics of Michigan. Even at an early age, Greg was able to enjoy his community and make friends throughout the neighborhood while riding his big wheel bike or tricycle. Greg also enjoyed Cub Scouts and his mom was his Den Leader. One of Greg’s true passions was bowling, and for many years he participated in a weekly bowling league. His favorite shows included: Speed Racer, The Three Stooges, WWE Wrestling and various sports. Greg loved to read - especially the TV Guide and sports pages of the newspaper, and was given the gift of retaining details of games and statistics. All that knew Greg, knew that what he spoke was almost always 100 percent correct.
Education was very important in Greg’s family and he worked very hard in school through various family moves and attended four different special education programs. Greg completed his education at the age of 26, and afterwards he moved to Bjorkland House, an adult group home that was owned and operated by the Covenant Church in Chicago. Though this was a very difficult transition for his parents, they knew it was the best thing for him, and Greg thrived in his newfound independence and developed new friends of his own. While living at group homes, Greg was also employed at sheltered workshops where he was able to contribute to community businesses and learn new skills.
In 1999, Greg’s parents moved to Muskegon, Michigan. As a new group home was being built through Forest Park Covenant Church, Greg moved from Chicago in 2001 and became one of the six original residents of Joseph’s House. Greg enjoyed living closer to his family, and the other men at Joseph’s House truly became his brothers and second family. As his health declined in recent years, Greg moved to Heartwood Lodge, a nursing facility in Spring Lake, MI.
Greg was raised in the Covenant Church and attended Sunday School where he learned about the love of Jesus, and was accepted as one of its members.
Greg was known for his humor and love of pranks. One of his favorite holidays was April Fool’s Day, and he loved to try to trick his sisters and family members.
Greg loved his two big brothers, Greg and Chris, and enjoyed talking sports and betting chocolate milkshakes on games.
Greg loved music, and would often break into dance, with moves that were impressive and defied his physical limitations.
Greg’s strength and endurance was especially prevalent in the way he overcame his many physical obstacles and surgeries. Greg was considered the family’s own “bionic man”, having endured neck/spinal fusion surgery, thumb surgery, reconstruction of both feet, knee surgery an hip replacement….all in an effort to combat the ravages of rheumatoid arthritis and keep him mobile and independent for as long as possible. Greg had an amazingly high threshold of pain, and very rarely complained.
Through all of life’s challenges, Greg’s life was filled with love and joy. God’s grace on Greg was that he viewed the world with a childlike innocence that did not know evil, hate or prejudice. He found great happiness in a life which was bound by faith and trust. Greg’s smile and twinkle in his eye, that was symbolic to the many who knew him, will be missed by all.
Gregory James Peterson age 57, of Muskegon, Michigan, went to meet Jesus and was reunited with his parents on January 13, 2024. Greg was born in Detroit, MI on November 23, 1966 to the late James and Joyce Peterson. Greg will be well remembered for his affectionate smile, sense of humor, knowledge of all things sports (especially his beloved Detroit Tigers, Detroit Lions, St. Louis Cardinals and Michigan State University), his love for music and dancing, and his loving acceptance of all those around him. Greg is survived by his sisters, Pam (Greg) Guest of Norton Shores MI, and Karole (Chris) Baar of Kalamazoo, MI. Greg was a fun-loving uncle to Brittany (John) Jager, Courtney Guest, Alex (Sarah) Guest, Sarah (Derek) Curran, and Drake (Sydney) Baar; and great-uncle to Jackson and Sophie Jager. A memorial service celebrating Greg’s life will be held Saturday, February 17, 2024 at 12 Noon at Heritage Life Story Funeral Home, Alt and Shawmut Hills Chapel, 2120 Lake Michigan Drive NW Grand Rapids, MI 40504. Friends may visit with Greg’s family on Saturday, February 17 from 10:30 AM to the start of the service at the funeral home. Memorials may be made to Portage Lake Covenant Bible Camp. Greg’s family would like to thank the staff at Joseph’s House and Heartwood Lodge for their compassionate care and support. Please visit Greg's personal web page to leave a memory, condolence or sign the online guestbook at www.heritagelifestory.com