Art J. Peterson Sr., 91, of Camillus, passed away peacefully with his family present at Upstate University Hospital Community Campus on Wednesday, June 10, 2020. Born in Brooklyn on July 8, 1928, he made Syracuse his home in 1951 with an established broadcasting background. Art was employed at WHEN TV, now WTVH, from 1951 to 1954. He hosted or emceed shows that were firsts for the Central New York area. A quiz show called, “Who, What, Where, or When” used at-home viewers for the contestants. An “Hour of Mystery” had him sitting in a chair by the fireside holding a book. Then, supposedly reading the story from a book, it went into the show to be aired. “Rudolph’s Talent Show” consisted of area talent. Winners were selected by the at-home audience who voted by card or letter. Lastly, a 15-minute musical presentation called “Club Continental” featured individual songs by well-known bands and singers taken from the station’s musical library. He sat in front of a piano for the show’s start giving the appearance of being in a nightclub, which some people mistook for real. Well-known artists made guest appearances, including jazz great, Louis Armstrong, singer, June Valli and band leaders, Frankie Carle and Ralph Flanagan.
Art was with WFBL Radio for 22 years from 1954 to 1976. He started as a disc jockey, hosting the “Art Gallery” and also reading the news. When the station manager wanted the areas to be specialized, Art chose news. He then became news director. He was president of the Syracuse Press Club in 1969. He also worked part-time from 1968 to 1969 at the local PBS Station WCNY as public affairs host and continuity director.
In 1976, Art joined WIXT Channel 9, now WSYR, as assistant news director. In 1978, he was the first recipient of the Professional Standards Award, now called the Selwyn Kershaw Award. In 1983, he broke the story about the drug Zomax and the traumatic reactions and fatalities it caused. It prompted a congressional hearing covered by the station. The drug was permanently removed from the market. It was and is the biggest story generated by a local CNY newsroom with it being both national and international across the US and United Kingdom. He was awarded the “Best Television Investigative Story” for it in 1983 by the Syracuse Press Club.
Art was inducted into the Syracuse Press Club Wall of Distinction in 2002 for his excellence and accomplishments in news reporting and commitment to the community.
After working at Channel 9, Art worked as a veteran’s counselor in the Onondaga County Department of Social Services from 1986 until his retirement in 1997. He continued working as manager of the International Building at the New York State Fair, driver for the “I’m Smart” Agency and 2010 Census worker.
Always known as a gentleman, Art was a devoted husband and family man. He was a Marine Corps veteran. Art was a man of great faith and communicant of Holy Family Church. He was an avid reader and enjoyed woodcarving and gardening.
Art was predeceased by his wife of nearly 61 years, Helen, in 2014; son, James, in 2016; two sisters; and three brothers.
Surviving are his children, Art (Dee) Peterson Jr., Patricia (Dan) Bishop and Donna (Chris) Bucci; grandchildren, Robert, Julie, Brenda, Aaron, Amanda, Jessica, Christine, Laura Beth, Erik and Christopher; two great-granddaughters; four sisters; three brothers; and several nieces and nephews.
A memorial service for Art will be held at a later date. He will be laid to rest next to his wife, Helen, in Onondaga County Veterans Memorial Cemetery.
In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to the Wounded Warrior Project, P.O. Box 758516, Topeka, Kansas 66675 or to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, 501 St. Jude Place Memphis, TN 38105.