A Eulogy for Pete

Given by his Father Dr. James Terbush New Covenant Fellowship Church Larkspur, Colorado June 20, 1999 - Fathers Day

Peter James Terbush was born at home in Castle Rock, January 23, 1978, 14 weeks premature, during a blizzard which closed Interstate 25, and he weighed all of 1 lb 14 oz. After a harrowing trip in the family vehicle, driven by his Aunt Kippi, during which we slid off the road into a snowy field, Peter was taken to the Swedish Minor Emergency Center in Castle Rock, which had just opened the month before. Pediatrician/Intensivist, Dr. Frank Martorano, just happened to be on call that night for emergencies and was at home. Of note is that Dr. Martorano actually cross-country skied down from his home in Happy Canyon that night. He started Pete on oxygen and IV Fluids, adjusted his temperature, acid/base balance and gave him some glucose through the IV. He then wrapped Pete up in tin foil to keep his temperature up before transferring him to Childrens Hospital. Pete looked like a little baked potato. Frank, you did things probably only one doctor in a thousand could have done, and you saved our Peters life. Thank you so much.

Peter survived as a result of the loving prayers and concerns of family, friends and many long time Castle Rock residents, and the excellent medical care at Childrens Hospital and at University Hospital. Because Pete was so premature, he encountered almost every problem that preemies are prone to: patent ductus arteriosus, apnea episodes, cerebral hemorrhage, necrotizing enterocolitis and others. He was transfused 5 times. Many times we were told the serious nature of these conditions. But as the threat of each new problem arose, each one was brought to our community of family and friends and especially the womens prayer group and Grandma Antonsen, who used her time as a resident at the Castle Rock Nursing Home to pray for others. When each prayer for Peter was answered, a record was kept on the back of an envelope, taped to the Terbush family refrigerator. The envelope is covered with the record of answered prayers. We owe this community so much. Thank you for your prayers.

Peters Neonatal ICU nurse Bobbie is here today. She loved him through these difficult days when we did not know if he would live. Bobbie cared for him like her own and I think she was a little hesitant to give him back to us when it was time. He was her baby. Peter left the hospital at 4 pounds and 3 months of age.

At that time I graduated from medical school and our family moved to California. During Petes early years he lived on both coasts, in Iceland and in England while I was serving with the United States Navy. In 1985, during one of many return trips to Castle Rock, we dropped by to say thank you to the staff of the Swedish Minor Emergency Center and to Dr. Martorano. This thank you ultimately became the connection which caused us to leave the Navy and return home with my family to Castle Rock to begin a private out-patient and emergency medical center with my good friend and classmate from residency, Dr. Jeff Krebs.

Petes growing up years were filled with adventures -- Pete was remembered as Most Likely to Become Indiana Jones at Elementary School in Castle Rock. A little later, he had to be rescued off the side of Castle Rock by myself and the Castle Rock Fire Department, a very humbling moment for this beginning rock climber.

When our family moved again, in 1993, this time to Singapore, Peter continued to explore the world around him, taking a solo trip to New Zealand, Borneo and Thailand and school trips to Nepal and Bhutan. Upon graduation from Singapore American School in 1996 he and I traveled extensively together and climbed in the Himalayas in India. Later, while in college, Pete followed his family to Greece where he again climbed in the French Alps, Italian Dolomites and Greek mountains.

Peter was enrolled as a Geology Student at Western State College in Gunnison and also became a qualified EMT and mountain guide. At the time of his death he had been climbing several of the major rock routes in Yosemite Valley. This was the accomplishment of a dream that he had had for many years.

This was not the first time Pete was called to be a hero, he grew up reading about heroes. We have an entire shelf of Hero Books at home and Pete had read most every one. While in India we came upon an accident where a bus had rolled off of a cliff and down the side of a mountain. The passengers were scattered all over. Since we were some of the first people there, Peter and his Singaporean friend Justin took charge and rigged a climbing rope over the side, rappelled down, and began to assist the injured back up to the road. His mind was filled with examples of heroism under circumstances of great danger--he was ready when the time came.

Pete died on 13 June 99 on his Grandmothers birthday. We had spoken with him earlier that day, when he called us in South Africa. He sounded strong and confident and very happy. He was looking forward to his upcoming visit to see us, but he was having the time of his life in Yosemite. He talked about how Yosemite really was the Mecca of American Climbing. When Pete was killed he and two friends were climbing a relatively easy rock route near the Curry Village area below Glacier Point in an area called Glacier Point Apron. Pete was a qualified mountain guide and rock climbing instructor, a lifetime goal of Petes, and the other young men were experienced rock climbers, as well. Pete was the belayer for Kerry. Pete held the rope which was run through several nuts, slings and carabiners and would support Kerry, if he was to fall. Kerry was a full rope length, about 160 feet, above Peter. Joe was at the base of the climb with Pete. A large section of granite rock, approximately 200 tons, loosened by repeated cycles of freezing and thawing and expansion of cracks, came loose a thousand or so feet above the climbers. As rocks and boulders the size of Volkswagens began tumbling down a rock chute, Joe took cover away from the exploding rocks. The place where Joe was sitting, and where his sweater remains, is covered with a huge boulder. Rock shrapnel was everywhere. Pete, as belayer, pulled into the arrest position expecting Kerry to fall. He leaned into the slope, but did not flee to the cover of a nearby protecting boulder. He could easily have done so, even tripped into the space behind a boulder, but would have lost control of the belay. The noise was deafening. Even 2 days later at the clinic Kerry and Joe were partially deafened. Granite dust filled the valley, causing tourists to flee in horror. When the rocks stopped falling, approximately 30 seconds, the young men began calling to each other through the dust. Joe found Peter, still in the arrest position holding the rope attached to Kerry above. He had been killed by the rock shrapnel from a falling boulder. Petes hands were fixed and in position, his left hand on the rope above and his right pulled down hard against his right hip loading the rope into the arresting device fixed to the harness at his waist. Kerry yelled at Joe to go get help for Pete, but Joe could tell Pete had been killed instantly. In order to get Kerry down, Joe had to pry the rope from Peters hands, which remained fixed.

Yosemite Park Search and Rescue could not get Petes body down for another 24 hours due to the risk of rock fall. Joe and Kerry both had injuries from rock shrapnel requiring suturing. Both young men are adamant that Pete saved Kerrys life. He stood there like a rock and took it. He was a rock, he was Peter, the rock.

I had a chance to talk with Park Rangers and Search and Rescue personnel afterward, and without exception, they told me that Pete was a hero. He did exactly what he was supposed to do. He was an example to others they said of selfless action, so different from much of the selfish behavior others frequently display in a crisis. The story of Petes action is reverberating within the climbing community and a climbers rendezvous and memorial service for Pete, led by climbers, is planned for August in Yosemite.

Pete was cremated in Merced, California. He had on a new clean T-shirt which his mom had brought back for him which said: Ayers Rock, Outback Australia, Hard Rock and No Cafe. He wore a climbing sling over his shoulder, bandoleer style. His friends had braided a section of climbing rope into a short staff which Pete held in his right hand. They placed a book on Petes chest, which Pete had been reading -- Hero with a Thousand Faces. Pete was cremated with his climbing boots on, as well.

Pete grew up with joy in his heart and laughter on his lips. He had bright green sparkling eyes, curly red hair that girls loved and a funny sideways smile and laugh. He was extremely fit, athletic and graceful on the rock. Petes friends who knew, because they traveled with him, said Peter was the only person who carried a 50-60 pound pack for training, for endurance training and for fun. He was getting ready for his upcoming trip to Africa in August, when we were to climb Mount Kenya together. It seemed that he had grown another inch or so. He was a hard body. His shoulders were erect and square, his chest was out, he had become a man. He was in the full flower of his manhood when he was struck down.

We are so thankful to have enjoyed Pete for these 21 years. He is remembered by his family as happy, fun loving, having many friends, unselfish, generous, enthusiastic, spontaneous, adventurous, brave, courageous, heroic, loving, determined, persistent, loyal, a man of character, a teacher, a leader, an encouragor, humble, and having an insatiable love of nature.

Pete lived or traveled in Iceland, England, Germany, France, Switzerland, Italy, Greece, Egypt, Israel, The Bahamas, The Netherlands, India, Bhutan, Nepal, Macedonia, Canada, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, Burma, New Zealand, Mexico and the United States.

Pete had experienced more in his 21 years than many who live to be 60 or 70. I am so thankful to have taken time to spend with my son on so many of these occasions. We were friends and climbing partners as well as father and son. Peter brought so much joy into our lives. Peters adventure stories were legendary at family reunions. Stuff you couldnt believe sometimes, except that they were true!

Pete told Kerry about his faith during the days before he died. Pete was raised in a Christian home and learned about the Lord at an early age. He was told that because of his early birth that God has a special plan and purpose for your life Pete. Pete and I went to Mount Athos together in Northern Greece, an ancient series of monasteries where Pete heard and knew in the clearest way the Gospel message.

We believe that Pete is at home with our Lord. looking down on us as part of the Cloud of Witnesses which surrounds us here. His Grandfather prayed that if there are mountains in heaven, that Pete could be found climbing there. Petes death and self-sacrifice reminds clearly again of how Jesus held the rope to save us. That Jesus died to save us from our sins and that we can live eternally through faith in him. Only a person who believed that there was more beyond this life could willingly lay down his life for a friend. Pete is at home with the Lord.

My Fathers Day message to you fathers is this:

We have our children for such a short time. We can never know when we or they may die. We will never regret the time weve spent with our Pete just loving and encouraging him. His life filled ours with Joy and he was truly a happy guy, doing the things he loved the most. Our last words to him over the phone that morning when he called were We love you Pete, we love you Pete!

We do love you Pete.

Thank you, God, for our Peter.


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