James Stephen Peters of Williamsburg, Virginia died on Monday, April 26, 2021 at Riverside Doctors’ Hospital surrounded by his wife and three children. He was 70 years old. James was a talented Landscape Architect. He was also an artist and a beloved husband, father, grandfather and brother. He will be profoundly and dearly missed.
Jim was born on February 23, 1951 in Annapolis, Maryland. His childhood unfolded across a series of towns up and down the west and east coasts of the United States. In every locale he made many friends, had adventures and fell more in love with the grandeur of the natural world. He finished high school in Virginia Beach where he worked as a beach service lifeguard, surfed and played baseball. A gifted pitcher, he began college as an athlete at East Carolina University but he eventually returned to Virginia seeking a different path. He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from William and Mary where he met his future wife and immersed himself in the fine arts.
He was always doing something interesting. For several summers he worked blowing glass at Jamestown Island. In a hiatus from his studies, he spent over a year in Japan where his father was stationed as a Captain in the Navy. There, Jim taught English to Japanese businessmen and traveled exploring the culture especially the gardens, Zen monasteries and pottery.
After his marriage in 1975 and while he and Michele were starting their family, he earned his Master of Arts degree in Landscape Architecture from the University of Virginia. In his career as a Landscape Architect he worked for Planning & Design Collaborative in Richmond, Virginia and later for AES Consulting Engineers in Williamsburg. He poured his creativity, focus and keen problem-solving skills into his work and he enjoyed collaborating with clients and colleagues to make projects reach their full potential. He was proud of his work and his designs have made many exterior spaces more beautiful, functional and joyful for those who inhabit and pass through them.
Jim was a tremendously hard worker and for many years of his early adult life he worked a second job waiting tables at the Williamsburg Inn. In every work environment he found joy in his fellows and while he may have longed for more time and space to pursue his passions, he was never bitter about the limitations life inevitably imposes, even his illness. He found pleasure in the time and freedom he had. His backyard, a space that grew more magnificent year by year, was a testament to his ability to make the world a more glorious place one small gesture at a time.
James created beautiful paintings and pastels throughout his life. He enjoyed examining details, like the striations of color inside a piece of shell or the distinctive qualities of a nearly perfect piece of fruit. He loved music, fishing, the oceans and rivers, golf, baseball, poetry and movies. He could play the harmonica and was an adept body surfer. He could talk for hours about the paintings of Bonnard, Cezanne and many others.
Jim was kind, curious, creative, enthusiastic, loving and a pleasure to be around. He made others feel seen and appreciated. With his mother he shared a kindred sense of humor and an uncanny ability to remember, catalogue and effortlessly retrieve jokes, not to mention weave them into conversation whenever an ideal context arose. They could be silly and even slightly off-color, but they endeared him to you and balanced his cultured tastes with a side that was fun-loving, casual and completely unassuming.
In 2013, Jim was diagnosed with a rare genetic disease called Alpha-1 Antitrypsin Deficiency and discovered that he would need a liver transplant to survive. After months of profound illness, in March of 2014 he received a life-saving organ transplant. The last seven years have been marked with beautiful experiences and family milestones as well as ongoing health challenges. His resilience, courage, wisdom and love have been an inspiration to all who have known him and his belief in the power of beauty and art to sustain and soothe has endured through every trial.
James is preceded in death by his mother and father, Jeanne Marguerite and John Victor Peters, as well as his father-in-law John Frank Korczowski. He is survived by his devoted and loving wife of 45 years, Michele Peters; his son, John Matthew Peters of Williamsburg, Virginia and his wife, Lindsey; his daughter, Katherine Anne Peters of Williamsburg, Virginia; and his son, Andrew James Peters of Falls Church, Virginia and his wife, Sarah, as well as three beautiful grandchildren, Henry James and Caroline Lisbeth of Falls Church and Eleanor Reese of Williamsburg with whom he would have loved to spend many more years. He is survived by his sister Victoria Ann Hansen of Penrose, Colorado and her husband Richard; his brother John Vincent Peters of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and his wife Phoebe and many beloved cousins as well as his mother-in-law, Eleanor Petty Korczowski; his brothers-in-law Michael Korczowski, Thomas Korczowski and his wife Desirée; Christopher Korczowski; his sister-in-law Mary K Seery and her husband Bill as well as nieces Ellie and Audrey Seery and Amalia Korczowski and nephews Michael Korczowski and Quentin Seery.
The family would like to express their unending gratitude to his organ donor and family, the Liver Transplant Team at UVA, surgeon Dr. Bartholomew Kane, the Pulmonary Department at UVA, especially Dr. Dana Albon and his Williamsburg doctors Dr. Blanchard and Dr. Wang and to every doctor and nurse who has cared for him over these past 8 years including those at Riverside Doctors’ Hospital who were with him and his family during his final hours.
In lieu of flowers donations can be made in Jim’s honor to the HealthWell Foundation whose mission is to reduce financial barriers to care for patients with chronic and life-altering diseases.
The funeral service will be held at the National Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham at 520 Richmond Road in Williamsburg, Virginia on Saturday, May 15 at 1:00pm. Reception details to follow.