AMerican Veteran 13

Anthony "Tayarji" Peterson

August 21, 1955 ~ October 12, 2023 (age 68) 68 Years Old

Anthony "Tayarji" Peterson Obituary

Anthony “Tayarji” Peterson, an extremely charismatic man of unwavering determination, passed away unexpectedly on October 12, 2023. Born on August 21, 1955, at Maxwell Air Force Base in Montgomery, Alabama, he was the beloved son of Thaddeus Lawrence Shakir (formerly Peterson) and Mary Ann Peterson (Murray), known to his family as Tony, he had a deep love for aviation from a young age. He was a passionate individual who enjoyed attending concerts, dancing, and encouraging mentorship of younger generations, whether it was his own family members or the youth in the community.

He is survived by his son, Jomari (Britney) Peterson, and 3 grandchildren; parents, Mary Peterson and Thaddeus Shakir; siblings Thaddeus Peterson Jr., Pamela Muhammad, Lamar Curtis Peterson, Sonji (Kevin) Perry and Akil (Marsharic) Peterson.  Tony cherished his nieces, nephews, great nieces and nephews, aunts, uncles, and cousins.

In his formative years, Tony was a gifted artist and athlete, excelling in baseball, football, and track and field. Later in life, he explored interests such as scuba diving, photography, and even poetry. He was a man of many interests and talents.

Tony attended John F. Kennedy High School in Richmond, California. As a high school student with full support from his parents, he enrolled in a private pilot ground school. Flying reminded him that all things were possible and made him a better student in school.  Tony obtained his private pilot license at the age of 17. 

He furthered his education at San Mateo Community College and San Jose State University. He also served three years in the United States Marine Corp (USMC) Officers Program as a reservist.

Following his military service, he obtained his commercial pilot license and continued to pursue his passion for flying.  Tony had to fight against racism and discrimination in the cockpit and was one of 3,000 applicants affected by the 1994 Equal Employment Opportunity Commission lawsuit accusing a major U.S. domestic carrier of failing to live up to a 1976 court decree ordering the carrier to stop discriminating against women and minority pilot applicants. He later worked as a 727 Pilot Intern for Carnival Airlines.

Tony relocated to Seattle, Washington and was actively involved in the community. He served as a math and science substitute teacher in Seattle Public Schools and coordinated various events such as a live performance promoting George Lucas and Rick McCullum’s movie “Red Tails” at Aki Kurose Middle School with special guest Lt. Col Edward Drummond, Tuskegee Airmen Pilot. This began his special and close relationship with the Tuskegee Airmen National and Tuskegee Alabama Chapter.

Tony's passion for community outreach extended to his involvement with the Seattle/SeaTac area Masjids where he actively worshiped. It was at one Masjid where he started being referred to as Tayarji by an Imam and members for his love of flying. He formally took on the name in 2011.

In 2012, Ty, as he was known by many, founded the Pacific West Aerospace Academy, a non-profit organization that aimed to introduce at-risk and underprivileged youth, primarily in low-income communities, to opportunities in aviation and aerospace careers. He believed in showcasing the multitude of career paths available beyond airlines and the military. Ty organized field trips to Coast Guard and Marine detachments and facilitated meetings with members of the Tuskegee Airmen working tirelessly to make sure the program was free with no charge to students.

In accordance with Ty's wishes, a celebration of life memorial to follow later.

Ty will be remembered for his love of aviation, his dedication to his family, mentoring of young people, and his impact on the community.  He will be deeply missed by his family, friends, and all those whose lives he touched.


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