Last week, Portland OR furniture chain owner Tom Peterson, a longtime sponsor of Portland Wrestling, passed away at the age of 86. Profiled by People Magazine in 1988 (“Some people say I’m an egomaniac. So what? If you’re going to spend a lot of money on advertising, you might as well spend it advertising yourself,”), Peterson is recalled by the Wrestling Observer Newsletter’s Dave Meltzer :
Peterson’s high energy commercials were a staple of the Portland Wrestling show during the 70s and 80s, and he later was the key sponsor of Frank Culbertson’s Portland Wrestling revival promotion, doing commercials with wife Gloria. Peterson opened his first furniture and appliance store in 1964 and by 1989 his chain of stores were doing $30 million per year in business. At one point he owned six furniture stores and in 1989, just as Portland Wrestling was dying out, he purchased the Stereo Super Stores chain, an ill fate move which ended up with his entire business declaring bankruptcy in 1992. He reopened one store at his original location. In the 1980s, the Oregonian said that Peterson, who did all his own commercials with his trademark crewcut haircut, was the most recognizable man in Portland. A Tom Peterson commercial played in the background of the movie “Drugstore Cowboy,” leading director Gus Van Sant to have him do cameos in several movies as well as putting another Peterson commercial in the movie “To Die For.” His face and name were also in the comic book “Boris the Bear #2 and there was a local song that got airplay for years in Portland called “I Woke Up with a Tom Peterson Haircut” that was released in 1987. Peterson’s death was due to complications from Parkinson’s disease, which he had been battling dating back to 1992.